In Opinion

Gazette opinion: obtaining addicts into treatment, out of river County jail

On Tues morning, the river County jail control 481 inmates. Most have addictions to alcohol or different medication. A key to reducing the jail population is to induce folks off medication before they commit another crime.

That’s the aim of the river County Drug Intervention Program. The production of County professional person Scott Twito, the program launched in Gregorian calendar month with support from the county, Justice Court, District Court and MT Department of Corrections. The aim is to induce first-time crime drug possession offenders into effective addiction treatment and out of the criminal justice system permanently. Cases involving guns or sale of medicationaren’t thought-about for YCDIP.

Court numbers illustrate the scope of this problem:

677 total crime cases filed in river County District Court in 2010.
1,324 filed in 2016
198 crime drug possession cases in 2010.
546 in 2016.
traffic cases in 2010.
60 in 2016.
The overwhelming majority of all criminal cases — not simply drug offenses — ar associated with nonlegal habitconsistent with Twito. First-time drug offenders don’t head to prison; they get probation. however regarding seventyp.c fail at probation, actually because they keep abusing medication and sometimes commit new offenses. Sometimes, drug offenders get a few additional charges whereas watching for the primary case to be resolved.

The YCDIP targets first-time offenders United Nations agency ar determined by screening to be “low-risk, low-need.” The program involves a team that has Twito, Lisa Ereth, the county’s jail screening coordinator; a state Department of Corrections officeholder, a state attorney and New Directions counsela personal addiction treatment supplier.

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“We’re making an attempt to reduce resource usage and obtain these folks into treatment at intervals thirty days of arrest,” Twito aforementioned in Associate in Nursing interview last week.

Between Janone and June twenty two, the YCDIP had screened forty three defendants. Thirty united to be interviewed for the program, and truly showed up for the interview. Fifteen were determined to be ineligible for YCDIP and fourteen of these were said drug treatment courts, which generally take more durable cases. Among those eligible, eight really accepted the provide to affix the program and 2 additional were considering it last week.

Here’s the deal: If the litigant pleads guilty, the county professional person can raise the court defer imposition of sentence for 2 years, which can mechanically be reduced to twelve months and fired by the county professional person upon completion of YCDIP. Program participants have gotten faster court dates and spent less time in jail than below the standard method. They receive a chemical dependency analysis at intervals 2 days, and ar needed to follow recommendations for treatment.

Probation officer Laura McKee needs participants to tolerate random drug testing. She has conjointly helped participants notice jobs, housing, transportation and access to treatment.

Yellowstone County desires additional innovative ideas like YCDIP to cut back habit and also the crimes that ensueaddiction. It’s been tough to scrape along cash for this treatment track, however the county pays far more to stay drug offenders secured up.

We commend Twito and river County court officers for making an attempt to prevent the cycle of medication, addiction and relapse.

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