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Metro Newsroom

Mayor’s Budget Funds Drug Treatment for Jail Inmates

Tuesday May 22, 2007

Mayor Jerry Abramson's upcoming city budget will include funding to expand substance-abuse treatment for inmates incarcerated by Louisville Metro Corrections.

“We’re working to break the cycle of individuals who are released from the correctional system, only to commit another crime and return to jail again,” Abramson said.

The mayor’s budget will include funding to hire a full-time substance-abuse counselor to work inside the jail with inmates who have been determined to have a drug or alcohol-abuse problem. The counselor will be responsible for coordinating all substance abuse-related programs in collaboration with community agencies and partners. In addition, the counselor will conduct individual and group counseling, as well as extensive assessments of inmates for appropriate referrals to various treatment opportunities within the jail setting.

Providing effective drug treatment in jails is more challenging than in a prison because of the shorter duration of time an inmate is typically in jail. Drug-treatment experts recommend that chronic substance abuse be treated with extensive outpatient or residential services that can last four to six months. The average stay for Louisville inmates is just 22 days, as the city does not house any inmates with misdemeanant sentences longer than one year.

“We do have some inmates who stay in our facility for up to a year, so we will work with those with whom we can have the most positive impact in helping promote a successful transition back to the community,” said Tom D. Campbell, Director of Louisville Metro Corrections.

The new substance-abuse counselor will work with the full-time social worker Metro Corrections hired last year to develop in-jail social services and to coordinate pre-release services such as housing and employment assistance. In addition, Metro Corrections provides access to on-site Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Metro Corrections also is developing a pilot project in collaboration with Greater Louisville Counseling Center at its Community Corrections Center, located at 316 E. Chestnut St., which will designate one 16-bed dormitory for an in-house drug treatment program. The program will serve inmates with substance-abuse issues and who have at least 90 days to serve on misdemeanor charges. Inmates in the program will participate in weekly group sessions, attend AA or NA meetings, and be given assignments to complete.

The mayor will present his budget to the Louisville Metro Council on May 31. Metro Corrections will begin accepting applications for the new substance-abuse treatment counselor after the budget is approved and takes effect July 1.