June 11, 2024

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Curbing Narcotics Abuse in Correctional Facilities

 
Gordon Graham
Category: Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for my corrections friends and it involves narcotics in correctional facilities.

I’m not here to tell you how to fix the human condition. But there are steps we can take to help curb narcotics use in our correctional facilities.

Drug use in our jails threatens the safety of inmates and staff. It also contradicts rehabilitative goals, undermines the authority of the institution, and reduces public confidence.

Let’s start by framing the problem. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, drug and alcohol-related deaths in jails have increased four-fold since 2002. How is that possible, you ask? Well, more than two-thirds of sentenced jail inmates meet the criteria for drug dependence. That’s compared to 5 percent of the general population.

It’s simple to understand. We put people prone to substance abuse in jails with limited resources for addiction rehabilitation. Now, I’m not here to tell you how to fix the human condition. But there are steps we can take to help curb the problem.

First, we must be vigilant. Does your agency have an established point of contact or drug liaison? That person collates and analyzes data on problem areas within facilities, then disseminates them to command staff. That increases awareness of the problem.

Second, for those in our custody, jails may provide the first opportunity to escape an environment where drug use is prevalent. Voluntary drug testing and treatment programs can incentivize an inmate’s desire to stop using. They also instill collaboration between correctional staff and inmates.

Finally, coupling vigilance with collaboration requires training. Line staff must be provided with strategies to promote a supportive environment. This includes learning how to talk with inmates who cope with substance abuse issues. And how to refer inmates to needed services.

The nation’s drug problem is bigger than any one of us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference. Vigilance, collaboration, and training are all practical tools we can use to reduce narcotics use in jails.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

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