ELYRIA — Inmates at the Lorain County Jail will soon be able to receive drug and alcohol treatment while they are incarcerated.
The treatment program will be offered, beginning Saturday, through a partnership between Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services and the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.
Thomas Stuber, chief operating officer of the drug abuse service, said the two agencies have already been working together to provide some counseling to the inmates, but Stuber said that when inmates are released, they often do not attend recommended drug or alcohol treatments, winding up right back where they started.
“It was just kind of a continuing recidivism, and we just wanted to break that,” he said.
A report released in February of 2010 by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported that of 2.3 million U.S. inmates, 1.5 million suffer from substance abuse addiction. Another 458,000 inmates either had histories of substance abuse, were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of committing their crimes; committed their offenses to buy drugs; or were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug violation.
Combined, the two groups make up 85 percent of the U.S. prison population, according to the report, “Behind Bars II, Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population.”
Stuber said Lorain County is no different.
Because of an increase in heroin and opiate use, Stuber said, the area has a “horrible drug problem.”
Stuber said the inmate program uses funds generated from the Inmate Commissary profits — the sale of items provided to the inmate population as permitted by the Ohio Revised Code — to offer treatment to those who may not be able to afford it.
In essence, Stuber said the inmate population is paying for its own recovery.
“I think this is an innovative approach that we think is going to help and stop the recidivism,” he said.
Stuber said there are no incentives to get prisoners to attend treatment programs that consist of individual and group counseling sessions — their participation is strictly voluntary.
“Hopefully, they will take advantage of this and turn their lives around,” he said.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.