HELENA – A five-member team from Lewis and Clark County is preparing to head to Washington, D.C. to take part in a national initiative to expand opioid addiction treatment in jails.
Lewis and Clark County is one of 15 counties that will participate in the “Planning Initiative to Build Bridges between Jail and Community-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder.”
On Tuesday the Lewis and Clark Commission accepted the grant and expressed their support of taking part in the initiative.
The five-person team will be comprised of: Commissioner Andy Hunthausen, Captain Alan Hughes, Lewis and Clark Sheriff’s Office, Ben McGaugh, Behavioral Health Program Supervisor, PureView Health Center, Samantha Pierson-Hartwig, RN, Lewis, and Clark County Detention Center and Kellie McBride, Lewis and Clark County Director of Criminal Justice Services.
“It is a big honor to receive this bridge grant,” said McBride. “It’s bridging treatment between the jail and the communities so that we can help keep the community safe, while we address opioid disorders.”
The team will learn from experts to help overcome barriers to providing opioid treatment, such as creating treatment guidelines and educating jail staff.
A consultant will be traveling to Helena in July to tour the jail and meet with County staff before the team travels to D.C. in August.
“This is an opportunity for Lewis and Clark County to address something that is broken,” said McBride, “and figure out together as a team across systems what will work best to fix this and ultimately this means we get to keep our community safe.”
Expenses for the initiative are provided through a grant from the Institute for Intergovernmental Research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance and in partnership with Arnold Ventures.
Lewis and Clark County is the smallest jurisdiction to participate in the planning initiative, with Cook County Jail in Chicago being the largest.