Back in March 2015, Kentucky lawmakers passed a heroin bill that, for many fighting the heroin epidemic in the state, was a long time coming. Now state officials have outlined plans for how they will allocate the $10 million of funding that was included in the final KY heroin treatment bill. KY Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown shared how the funds would be split between different treatment vectors in the state. Much of the funding will be going to the Department of Corrections in some form or another, while another large portion will be reserved for community mental health and treatment facilities.
In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Brown emphasized the state’s determination to channel funds to programs that prove they use evidence-based treatment methods and get good treatment results. The state will reportedly begin accepting grant applications from mental health and substance abuse treatment centers in July. According to the Enquirer, advocates for heroin treatment in Northern Kentucky have been critical of the funding allocations. Some feel that the state should be explicitly expanding treatment capacity at rehab facilities with the funding instead of waiting for grant applications. They claim the need for heroin treatment in Northern KY is acute and urgent.
Is too much of the funding being reserved for KY heroin treatment in jails?
Another point of contention seems to be that the largest portion of heroin funding is going to supplement programs in jails and the criminal justice system in general. A total of $3 million will be used to fund substance abuse treatment programs in jails for county and state inmates. Northern KY county jails have already announced projects to expand substance abuse treatment programs in their facilities. Half of the $3 million in Department of Corrections funding will be used to provide medication for maintenance treatment for those who are released from incarceration.
Another portion of the funding has been reserved for the creation of “rocket docket” programs intended to speed up prosecution and sentencing procedures for drug offenders. Although the primary intention here is to increase efficiency in the courts, it should also result in county jails that are better able to provide detox and treatment to inmates by reducing overcrowding. Currently, local jails cannot meet the demand for treatment due to large inmate populations with a high rate of substance abuse disorders. These new funding measures aim to create a more efficient drug treatment system in the county jails.
More funding for pregnant women seeking KY heroin treatment
More of the funding will be used to enhance other vital drug treatment programs. A social workers program intended to promote alternative sentencing plans for drug offenders will receive $1.2 million. Another $1 million will go to programs that provide services to addicted pregnant women and infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome. The latter is an important area of treatment, with many noting the need for more programs that address the medical concerns of pregnant women suffering from substance abuse.