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National Jail-Based Opioid Treatment Program Expands

A successful approach to expanding access to jail-based opioid treatment, that began in California, will grow to 16 additional counties across the country. Health Management Associates (HMA), a leading healthcare consulting firm, developed the program blueprint which was successfully deployed in 29 California counties and resulted in better access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for those in the criminal justice system.

Arnold Ventures, a national philanthropy committed to improving the criminal justice system, and the U.S. Department of Justice have joined forces to support the national initiative “Building Bridges Between Jail and Community-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder.” Arnold Ventures selected HMA to provide the coaching and technical assistance to the county teams, based on HMA’s experience leading California’s initiative to implement MAT programs in county jails.

“This program is so important because it builds the capacity for effective treatment of opioid addiction in the population with the most advanced addiction. Success means that persons with opioid addiction who end up in the criminal justice system can experience recovery and can pursue productive lives,” said Donna Strugar-Fritsch, HMA project director for the national and California initiatives. “It also reduces criminal behavior and prevents overdose deaths. The Learning Collaborative framework allows county teams to rapidly disseminate best practices and modify them to their unique situations, with just-in-time technical assistance. The results are remarkable.”

Addiction experts recognize and promote the use of MAT as the most effective treatment for those with opioid use disorders. Assuring that this evidence-based treatment is available in local criminal justice systems with linkage to treatment in the community is critically important, as the risk of fatal overdose following release from incarceration is 129 times that of the general population.

The California teams involved in this project cover more than 80 percent of the state population. All of the teams have made significant progress toward providing two or more forms of MAT in jails and drug courts, and in less than a year since the project began many jails are now administering the medications. By the end of the 18-month project, all of the jails intend to continue treatment that inmates started in the community. Many will also initiate MAT in the jail, and many will provide in-jail behavioral therapies to treat addiction. Teams also are working to ensure continuity of treatment – both medications and counselling – at release, coordinating closely with drug courts, prosecutors, public defenders, probation, and parole to assure consistent support for opioid treatment across the criminal justice system.

The new national initiative will follow this same path. Each team will have a coach from HMA who will visit the county to support the local team with technical assistance, problem solving, and resources. The teams will also convene with the funders, HMA, and others in two Learning Collaboratives. The counties participating in the initiative are:

Camden County, NJ
Chesterfield County, VA
Clackamas County, OR
Collier County, FL
Cook County, IL
Cumberland County, ME
Durham County, NC
Eaton County, MI
Hudson County, NJ
Ingham County, MI
Jefferson County, KY
Lewis and Clark County, MT
Marion County, IN
Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes, LA
Shelby County, TN
St. Louis County, MN

Health Management Associates (HMA) is a leading independent national research and consulting firm specializing in publicly funded healthcare reform, policy, programs, and financing. Clients include government, public and private providers, health systems, health plans, institutional investors, foundations, associations, and community-based organizations. With 23 offices and over 200 multidisciplinary consultants coast to coast, our team is always within client reach.