May 9, 2019
Chesterfield County today announced it is one of 15 localities, and the only one in Virginia, selected to participate in a national program to expand medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in jails.
The county will receive expert guidance on how to overcome barriers to providing opioid treatment and scholarships for five staff members to attend trainings in Washington, D.C. Experts will work with jail officials to create treatment guidelines, manage administration of the medications, and educate jail staff about addiction.
“We’re honored to have been selected to be part of this national initiative to expand treatment for opioid use disorders in jails and communities,” said Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl S. Leonard. “We are committed to provide all those struggling with addiction the skills, tools, and ability to succeed with their recovery as they reintegrate back into the community and for the rest of their lives”.
Chesterfield will also develop a plan with local health care officials to ensure people can access treatment after they’re released. The program is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Arnold Ventures, a national philanthropy headquartered in Houston, Texas. In addition to supporting efforts to expand treatment for opioid use disorder, the philanthropy is also working to improve the criminal justice system through reforms to policing, pretrial, probation and parole, and reintegration services.
Jails are at the epicenter of the opioid crisis. Tens of thousands of people with opioid use disorder pass through the corrections system each year. But only about 30 of the 3,200 jails in the country offer the opioid medications methadone and buprenorphine, which have been shown by research to be the most effective forms of treatment. Most individuals instead go through detoxification, which lowers tolerance levels without curbing opioid cravings and dramatically raises the risk that people will overdose after they’re released.
“We could change the trajectory of the opioid crisis by treating people in jails. Our goal is to create a model for local leaders who want to tackle this problem head on,” Kelli Rhee, president and chief executive officer of Arnold Ventures, said.
Chesterfield is one of 15 jurisdictions that will participate in the Planning Initiative to Build Bridges Between Jail and Community-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. The selected sites span the country from Lewis and Clark County Detention Center in Helena, Montana, which has 80 beds, to Cook County Jail in Chicago, the largest single-site jail in the United States. The 15 selected localities are listed below.
For more information about the Planning Initiative to Build Bridges Between Jail and Community-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, visit https://www.arnoldventures.org/work/the-opioid-epidemic.
About Arnold Ventures
Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. Founded by Laura and John Arnold in 2010, Arnold Ventures’ core mission is to improve lives by investing in evidence-based solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. The philanthropy has offices in Houston, New York, and Washington, D.C.