Officials discuss new way to treat heroin addicts - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Officials: Treatment facilities in county jails can help addicted inmates

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KENTUCKY (FOX19) -

Officials in Northern Kentucky are discussing a new way to treat heroin addicts.

The judge executives in Kenton, Campbell, and Boone County are looking at putting treatment facilities either in or near the county jails to treat the addicted inmates.

County leaders say there's not enough being done at a state level, so they're trying to take a regional approach to address the heroin epidemic.

Those supporting the idea say it's a way to treat addicts and get them back on their feet before they are released.

However, some are concerned that the money to fund this kind of idea could involve taxpayer dollars.

Christina Weinel lost her son two years ago to a heroin overdose. She wishes her son would have had the opportunity to get help while in jail because she personally knows an addict's habits after their release from prison.

"I can't count the number of caskets that I've helped kiss goodbye after they've been to jail and they use after they've been released," said Weinel.

Kenton County Judge Executive Steve Arlinghaus says 80 percent of their more than 600 inmates are in their because of drugs.

"Instead of being locked up in a detention center, shift them out of there after they've served their time. Shift them into a facility like this as part of their process for being released," said Arlinghaus.

Arlinghaus says they have a few ideas for treatment center locations. One is using a vacant building near their jail. Campbell County is also expanding their detention center.

"In doing that, there's also going to be the potential for 32 additional beds for there as well," said Arlinghaus.

It's state law to have separate facilities for men and women. Arlinghaus says two centers is the goal. In terms of funding, Arlinghaus says completing this project for the entire eight county region may cost up to four million dollars.

"For any one county to try to do it on their own, it's going to be extremely expensive and almost unsuccessful," said Arlinghaus.

Weinel thinks there will be resistance from the community if the counties use taxpayer dollars, but she personally thinks it'll be worth it in the long run.

"Would you rather house them and pay for them to be in a jail and come out and become a repeat offender? Or would you rather offer some solution so that the problem doesn't keep manifesting itself?" asks Weinel.

Arlinghaus says the decision of funding will be decided by each county independently. This could mean anything from a tax increase or reduced government spending. 

The fiscal year for these counties begins on July 1st and Arlinghaus says they'd like to have a better idea of where the funding for this project will come from by that date.

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