Participants in the Your Recovery Solutions group have a special interest in persons and families affected by incarceration and contribute their time and energy to the Ex-Offender Community Reentry Project. This project focuses on best practices related to jail/prison release transitions to the community and the principle that correctional healthcare is good community health for all residents. County Detention Centers, with a higher volume of bookings and shorter length of stays, are perfect places for substance use related interventions with detained persons in the pretrial setting of a jail. Over 50% of incarcerated person have some kind of substance use problem, often co-occurring with a mental health condition/diagnosis. About 25% of persons incarcerated are homeless during the month before entering jail/prison. Persons with behavioral health problems stay in jail longer and return more often. People of color are disproportionately represented in incarcerated populations.
YRS strives to promote policies and practices that people with substance use disorders (SUD) in custody receive evidence-based care in accordance with current medical standards as stated by national bodies of accreditation (e.g., National Commission on Correctional Health Care) and governmental agencies (e.g., SAMHSA). The overarching guiding principles for the Project are that release planning starts immediately when the offender enters the facility and that ex-offender reentry success is a collaborative inter-agency effort. The Project aim is for recently released ex-offenders to have on-demand access to opioid, alcohol, and methamphetamine addiction treatment without financial, insurance or wait list obstacles.
How to advance the best practices and medical standards for the reentry initiative naturally varies from community to community. What works in one place may not in another location. However, some guidance and concepts for a task force or community coalition to embrace regarding improved substance use services for jail detainees are found in the National Commission for Correctional Health Care 2016 Position Statement on Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Adults and Adolescents. We value continuing medication assisted treatment (MAT) with methadone or buprenorphine when someone is detained and starting persons having experienced alcohol or opioid detox while detained with naltrexone at the time of release for community re-rentry.
We likewise value collaborating with other criminal justice agencies-- drug courts, probation/parole offices, and prisons-- along with diversion and decriminalization/sentencing entities. We constantly seek ways to reduce investment and funding barriers for the continuum of care for persons with substance use disorders (SUD) and to reduce the stigma often associated with receiving SUD treatment services. Until we have a dedicated building site with a larger, more organized committee for the initiative, we will rely on more informal means to accomplish a less harmful, healthier status for previously incarcerated individuals with substance use disorders. Here in Las Cruces the Dona Ana County Health and Human Services Department is leading community-based initiatives for pre-arrest jail diversion based on theLEAD model in Santa Feand to have an active ex-offender re-entry program connected with the Crisis Triage Center, which was constructed in 2013 and opened in June 2021. LEAD here focuses on opioids and methamphetamines. Jail MAT services address opioids and alcohol. The Amador Health Center has a methamphetamine-related diversion program (brochure). Amador usescontingency management as an evidence-based best practice for stimulant use disorders and also accepts persons not involved in the criminal justice system who use methamphetamine.
Amador Recovery has a Peer Recovery Navigator and a Program Engagement Specialist that may be reached at the mobile helpline of 575.323.2277 to assist justice-involved individuals to start, continue or return to medicated assisted treatment (MAT) with naltrexone or buprenorphine. They are part of a Community Connection Team, funded by Dona Ana County, to increase and improve access to MAT among residents.
“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” ― Nelson Mandela