Clark County hoping letter cuts down on heroin deaths

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN)- “You cannot arrest your way out of this epidemic,” explains Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly.

Last year, 17 people died from heroin overdoses in Clark County, matching the record.

In hopes of reducing that number, each inmate will now receive a letter from Coroner Richard Marsh before they are released.

It reads, in part; “You cannot safely take the dose you have in the past after being released from incarceration…The only way to avoid an overdose death is not to use drugs.  But, if you can’t, use a smaller does than you did before you were in jail.”

The average stay in the Clark County Jail is 40 days and when they are released, they have detoxed.  If they return to the street, and attempt to use the same amount of heroin that they did when they came into jail, they are going to overdose and in many cases, they are going to die,” comments Sheriff Kelly.

The letter also lists several treatment programs. .

When asked if handing out this letter will really make a difference, Sheriff Kelly says, “I think we have to do everything possible to try to work as a community to address the scourge that’s killing people and it’s in every neighborhood.”

While in jail, inmates also receive help to try to kick the heroin habit.

“We offer substance abuse treatment.  We have a counselor in the building from McKinley Hall. We have two mental health therapist.  We have a re-entry program in the Clark County Jail.  We’re doing everything we can to get these people to recognize that they need help with their addiction,” explains Sheriff Kelly.

He tells 2 NEWS that heroin addicts usually aren’t arrested on drug charges, that they usually commit other crimes such as robbery  to try to support their habit.

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