Chesterfield County announced last week that it is one of 15 localities, and the only one in Virginia, selected to participate in a national program to expand medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in jails.
The county will receive expert guidance on how to overcome barriers to providing opioid treatment and scholarships for five staff members to attend trainings in Washington, D.C.
Experts will work with jail officials to create treatment guidelines, manage administration of the medications, and educate jail staff about addiction.
Chesterfield will also develop a plan with local health care officials to ensure people can access treatment after they’re released.
The program is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Arnold Ventures, a national philanthropy headquartered in Houston. In addition to supporting efforts to expand treatment for opioid use disorder, the philanthropy is also working to improve the criminal justice system through reforms to policing, pretrial, probation and parole, and reintegration services.
Jails are at the epicenter of the opioid crisis. But only about 30 of the 3,200 jails in the country offer the opioid medications methadone and buprenorphine, which have been shown by research to be the most effective forms of treatment.