Addicts Get Second Chance With Jail Program

Addicts Get Second Chance With Jail Program

FRANKLIN COUNTY (Oct. 18, 2019) – Inmates at Franklin County Jail with addiction problems are getting a second chance.

Commissioners recently contracted with Keystone Health Center and Pyramid Healthcare Inc. to expandthe jail’s medication assisted treatment (MAT) program.

The program, also known as “Jail To Community Treatment” (JTCT), began in 2017. It aids individuals’ recovery efforts both during and after a jail stay.

Because of this success rate, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections plans to replicate the Franklin County model in other counties. It is a significant recognition of the program’s success.

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Justin Lensbower, the jail’s Health Services Administrator and Director of Mental Health Services, said the program serves individuals who have long struggled with recovery.

“We’re starting off with the toughest group to treat, then measuring them by the toughest standards, and we’re still having higher success rates compared to other programs,” said Warden Bill Bechtold.

Part of the success story is the intense focus on overcoming mental health issues and counseling.

“Weprovide two to three timesmore counseling than other programs.”

Measuring Success

The yardstick for measuring the program’s success is the participant’s ability to stay free of charges once they are out of jail. New charges, even one, after release count as a program failure.

When the program began, the projected success rate was 40%, Lensbower said.

But in its two-year history, the success rate has reached 54%. Lensbower attributes that success rate to the program’s focus on counseling. Program participants receive 4-6 weeks of counseling prior to getting their first injection. Treatment and medications continue into the community which sets participants up for success upon their release due to the connections created and trust built with community providers.

“Weprovidetwo to three timesmore counseling than other programs,” said Warden Bechtold.

New grant funding supports the jail’s expansion of medication options to include Suboxone and Subutex, adding those drugs to the Vivitrol prescriptions that started the program.

“Vivitrol is not effective for everyone,” said Warden Bechtold. “Programs have to be flexible.”

The expanded medication options also allow the jail to seamlessly transition individuals who are in MAT when entering jail to continue their treatment while they are there. A grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) covers the cost of the medications.

The true winners are those 54% who succeed in beating their addictions, Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski said.

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