Drug treatment behind bars proving to keep inmates from returning

KENTON CO., Ky. (WKYT) - There are two sides to the Kenton County Detention Center. One side is general population. The other side is a chance to start over. "I'm proud of each and every one of these men for stepping up," Jailer Terry Carl said as he looked over the open room of 70 men. The men are part of the jail's substance abuse program.

In Kenton County, there is a 70 percent recidivism rate; meaning, 70 percent of the inmates that leave jail end up back behind bars. However, 70 percent of detainees that complete the 90-day SAP program, after one year, have not re-entered the detention center.

"Over here we get a chance to look at what we've done and think about it, make changes so when we get out, we give ourselves a better chance to stay out," explained Inmate David Cross. "It's still jail. It's just not warehousing. On one side they just put you in, you did your crime, now deal with it. Over here, we get a chance to look at what we've done and think about it, make changes so when we get out, we give ourselves a better chance to stay out."

"It's affordable, it's effective, and it's making an impact," explained SAP Director Jason Merrick. Merrick has been sober since 2009. "I can relate to every single one of them," he told WKYT's Miranda Combs. "It's hard sometimes because I see the struggle and I know how real it is. And I know the consequences and when I see someone that is resistant to change it's difficult because I really want the best for them. I want them to succeed," he said.

Group therapy, counseling, and classes go on all day long. "It's about exposing the men to different forms of support, so when they are released they can choose what best fits their lifestyle," Merrick explained.

When inmates that complete the program are released, they are given Vivitrol, which is meant to block the effects of opiates for a month and reduce cravings. They are also given sober living options and mentors.



 
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