ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Is the Orange County Jail a detention center or a rehabilitation facility? Mayor Teresa Jacobs says it’s both.
“We have really changed since the time I’ve been in office our philosophy on the jail, from a place where we just detain people to a place where we help to rehabilitate lives,” Jacobs told FOX 35.
Tuesday the Board of County Commissioners gave its initial stamp of approval to Jacobs’ 2017-2018 budget.
The $3.96 billion dollar plan includes $500,000 to expand a drug treatment the Community Vivitrol Program, which uses a non-narcotic drug to help reduce an addict’s craving for heroin and opioids.
The program was recommended by the Orange County Heroin Task Force. The Vivitrol program has been up and running for about six months.
“So far we’ve seen very positive results but it’s going to take longer than we’ve had it in place to really know how effective it is,” Jacobs said. “We do know it’s very, very hard to kick that addiction and it takes time to know if somebody is going to be able to stabilize and avoid relapse.”
Inmates on the program detox, get treatment, and prior to release get an injection of Vivitrol. A second dose is administered at a drug rehab facility in the community.
According to the county, 508 inmates volunteered to participate in the program and 95 qualified for the treatment. Patients must be medically qualified through laboratory results. So far 40 have received the drug either through injection or a nasal spray. With more money, the county hopes to treat more inmates.
Luis Delgado, known to some as The Dope Doctor, said he has helped inmates get in the Vivitrol program.
He said addiction specialists have been asking jails to act more like rehab centers for years .
“The behavior that gets you to jail is not the primary problem, the primary problem is the health condition of addiction,” he said.
The Orange County Jail was among the first in Florida to put a Vivitrol program in place. Since then the legislature has budgeted more than 11 million dollars for similar programs around the state.