Unused Bartholomew County jail space may be used for drug treatment

A recommendation is expected next month that an unused 120-bed portion of the Bartholomew County Jail be converted to a drug treatment center for inmates.

That will be one of about 50 recommendations likely to come in September or later from the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County, according to Jeff Jones, the organization’s executive lead.

“Being able to treat people suffering from addiction in our jail right now will be our number one initiative,” Jones told the Bartholomew County Council Tuesday.

The goal should be to open the center no later than 2019, due to the increasing number of opioid addicts emerging in the community, Jones said.

Both current sheriff Matt Myers and former two-term sheriff and current county council member Mark Gorbett expressed support for the recommendation.

A similar program in eastern Kentucky, as well as a pilot program in Bloomington, were cited by Jones as evidence that in-jail addiction treatment is becoming mainstream in communities across the country.

“We’ve got people in our jail that are sober for the first time in a long time,” Jones said. “Some percentage of those people are getting their heads right, and are ready to be treated.”

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.