New addiction program would be positive step in treatment

A drug syringe and a spoon with cooked heroin

Bartholomew County has been working diligently for more than a year to come up with solutions for dealing with the local drug addiction and opioid abuse crisis.

A crucial step was creation of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP) in Bartholomew County, a collaborative task force involving key individuals and agencies across the community to understand the depth of the crisis and create strategic goals.

Another long-considered positive development would be creation of a drug-addiction treatment program for indigent male inmates within the Bartholomew County Jail.

That’s what Community Corrections wants to do with $194,600 of a $1.84 million grant request that’s been submitted to the Indiana Department of Correction.

The program would serve up to 15 men, and the Department of Correction grant pay would for a couple of additional staff members and professional services from an agency that specializes in substance abuse.

It would be similar in framework to Bartholomew County’s Women Recovering with a Purpose (WRAP) program. In that 12-month program, participants are kept away from other inmates in the jail complex for six months, and then serve six months of probation with electronic surveillance.

The program for the indigent males would complement work the New Day Residents Encounter Christ group has been doing at the local jail since August. The group, affiliated with the ASAP Bartholomew County initiative, consists of area ministers and volunteers from the Emmaus community who meet with male and female inmates to help them spiritually and provide them with hope that can be beneficial in turning their lives around.

What’s good about this latest proposal is that the application received input and support from ASAP, Sheriff Matt Myers and local judges before it was presented to the county commissioners. That type of backing from key stakeholders will be helpful in ensuring success.

Local officials won’t know until April or May whether the application receives approval. If it does, the proposed program could start in the fall.

That would be significant.

People dealing with addicts who are simply sent to jail without a plan to break their cycle of addiction means they likely will resume old habits after being released from incarceration. That doesn’t help the individual or the community, both of which deal with the problem over and over.

Providing treatment to male inmates who need it most gives them a greater chance of breaking the cycle and eventually becoming productive members of society.

The hope is that the proposal is approved.