County Jail Looks at Solutions to Drug, Alcohol Problems

drugs[1]BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) — Working with those who have drug and alcohol problems is a daily chore for the employees of the Jefferson County Jail, and that was the main topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Jail Board meeting in Brookville.

Jail Warden Tom Elbel presented a program that could give departing inmates a chance to break their dependence on alcohol, one that would cost the county no money.

For inmates that choose to participate, they could take Vivitrol – a drug that stops or greatly reduces a person’s craving for alcohol – three days before their release from the jail.

The dose would be good for 30 days, and those released would have to follow up on their own.

“This seems like a no-brainer,” Jefferson County Sheriff Carl Gotwald said.

“I know (District Attorney) Jeff (Burkett) supports it and we’re not liable for anything,” County Commissioner Jack Matson said.

The county Drug and Alcohol Commission has a grant to help pay for the program, and Prime Care would be in charge of administering the medication, all at no cost to the county.

“If an inmate is interested, we would educate them on how it works and what they need to do before they receive the medication,” Elbe said. “I checked with Prime Care to see how often inmates might choose this, but they said they didn’t think there would be more than two or three a month.”

“People are interested in getting off drugs like heroin, but most want to be able to drink when they get out,” Elbel said.

Brookville Chief of Police Jason Brown said he thought it was a great idea and that the department could give the jail some of the cases of the Vivitrol that they received through another grant.

“We’ve got so much, we’ll never use it all before it expires,” Brown said.

The Board unanimously approved the program.

As for working with those who have heroin addictions, the Board approved Elbel devising a written policy for jail staff to administer Narcan to inmates.

The Jail has Narcan – a medication to help addicts get off heroin – but only medical staff can administer it, and Elbel said they are in the jail 14 hours per day.

“We could have everyone in the jail trained to give it to inmates at no cost,” Elbel said. “The Narcan would still cost us, but Gotwald pointed out how costs could be minimized if jail staff could give inmates the medication.”

“If you have a pregnant female in the jail, that’s a daily trip to Clearfield to the methadone clinic with two deputies. But, if it can be done at the jail, that’s saving quite a bit of money,” Gotwald said.

The next Jail Board meeting will be at 11:00 a.m., on Tuesday, June 28.

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