Clark County (Ohio) Jail doubles inmates in drug treatment program

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Springfield News-Sun on 11/2/2017 by Katherine Collins

Lt. Michael Young gives a tour of one of the new drug treament program classrooms at the Clark County Jail Monday.

A new drug treatment program in the Clark County Jail is unlike any other program in Ohio and is aimed at preventing crime, Springfield leaders said.

McKinley Hall expanded its drug treatment program within the Clark County Jail earlier this month to allow for nearly double the number of inmates to participate. Previously, only about 30 inmates could enroll in the drug treatment program within the jail, now there’s room for 60 inmates.

“If we can start working on some of the skills that they’re lacking while they’re incarcerated that makes it all the better once they get out,” said Deontrae Ellis, program coordinator with McKinley Hall.

It’s an intensive outpatient program, Ellis said. It was able to expand after the jail converted its employee gym into two classroom spaces. Inmates meet for nine hours a week in some capacity, Ellis said. The program includes addiction education classes, as well as group and individual counseling.

“It’s needed in Clark County because we have a serious opiate problem,” he said. “It’s just another way to combat it.”

In Clark County, a record 97 people have died of drug overdoses so far this year and local law enforcement have responded to more than 1,000 drug overdoses, local leaders said. Responding to those overdoses and other drug-related calls is time-consuming and ties up resources, local law enforcement leaders have told the Springfield News-Sun.

McKinley Hall now also has a case manager and therapist with offices within the jail.

The jail wanted to do more to help inmates prepare for release, Jail Administrator Lt. Michael Young said, so he and Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett were on board with the plan to expand treatment. Many of the inmates in jail are there on charges related to drugs.

“We realized that we’re not doing enough,” Young said. “… These are all members of our community. So when they’re incarcerated, what are we doing to prepare them to be better members of the community?”

The goal is to get people on a path to recovery while they’re incarcerated, Young said, that they can continue after they’re released.

“Then even if you get out and you stumble or you hit the addiction again, hopefully there’s a better plan in place to get you kind of reorganized,” he said.

Since the creation of McKinley Hall’s Criminal Justice Program, Ellis said 271 clients have received treatment and about 110 of them haven’t had any new arrests in the past year. That’s a trend Ellis hopes will continue.

“Over the last three to five years, we’ve been trying to tackle this opiate problem any and every way that we can,” he said. “And providing services to our residents while they’re actually incarcerated is just another step in the right direction.”