COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH)—The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office is studying a plan to turn part of the Bartholomew County Jail into a drug treatment facility for inmates. Sheriff Matt Myers said he supports the plan, which comes from a county task force aimed at preventing drug abuse called the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP).
The sheriff said his team has recorded more than a dozen overdose deaths around the county so far this year. He said police have used the overdose antidote Narcan about 53 times to revive drug users in 2017.
The plan is still in the early stages and the sheriff’s office, along with ASAP, is involved in a study to figure out where the funding would come from.
Sheriff Myers said a part of the county jail that used to hold about 120 inmates is now unused after the county moved inmates to a larger facility. He said the unused part of the jail is an ideal spot for the treatment center.
“You can’t just say we’re going to attack the supply and not treat the people that need treatment,” Sheriff Myers said.
According to Sheriff Myers, the jail averages around 235 inmates and about 90 percent struggle with drug abuse. He said he plans to open the old jail back up and staff it to prevent overcrowding in the new jail, but he’d also like to prevent drug abuse.
“I think everybody understands the need for this,” Sheriff Myers said. “I think it’s a matter of, how do we pay for it?”
Jeff Jones is ASAP’s executive lead.
“It could come from taxpayer funding. There could be some support from grants that are available,” Jones said. “We’ll be looking at a variety of funding sources.”
Bartholomew County inmates sometimes see a counselor for two or three hours before they’re released back into the jail population, Sheriff Myers said. Jones and the sheriff believe the recovery rate would be higher if inmates could live with other inmates also seeking recovery.
“I think we’re ahead of the game. We’re talking about it, we’re figuring it all out,” Sheriff Myers said. “I’m confident that community members along with local government will come up with a way to fund this.”
Myers and Jones said they’ve been discussing the plan with county commissioners.
24-Hour News 8 reached out to the county commissioner’s office to see if the commissioners feel the plan could become a reality, but we have not heard back.