Soon, former inmates leaving the Franklin County jail will have the option to be injected with Vivitrol, an anti-addiction drug meant to prevent opioid relapses.
Starting October 1, about 520 inmates are expected to take advantage of the program, which will cost around $400,000 a year.
Jennifer Martinez, director of clinical services for the Franklin County Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board, says the program will tackle the opioid epidemic and reduce recidivism at the same time.
"We are really hoping that, for the individuals with opiate addictions specifically, that we're not going to see them coming back into the jail over and over again," Martinez says. "You know, we're going to see, hopefully, gainful employment and really re-entering society."
Ohio's opioid epidemic has found its way into Franklin County's jails, where deputies are seeing more people enter the system with addiction problems. Drug overdoses aren't uncommon, either, and drugs are often snuck inside.
"Sometimes individuals with an opioid addiction are arrested, usually they have committed a crime that has to do with supporting their addiction," Martinez says. "And many of them are going through detox in jail, which puts them at a very vulnerable point when they're released."
In 2017, deaths from overdoses in Franklin County are up 88 percent from the same time a year ago.