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Jail Has Big Expectations For Heroin Recovery Pilot Program

Ann Thompson
The Hamilton County Justice Center has launched a pilot program to help heroin addicts stay clean.

A very small pilot program at the Hamilton County Justice Center, designed to help heroin convicts stay clean, is showing promise.

Sixteen female inmates who volunteered to be part of "The Heroin Recovery Pod Pilot Program" receive regular counseling, educational help,  assistance writing a resume and learn how to find  a job when they get out.

Credit Hamilton County Sheriff's Department

One of the participants, who is out of jail now, recently wrote in chalk outside the jail, "Love recovery pod, miss y'all, I'm clean still."

The jail's Major Charmaine McGuffey says of the colored chalk message, "It brought me to tears for it to mean that much to someone to write that message in a spot that she knew these women could see it."

More than eight agencies are volunteering their time. Lisa Mertz with C.A.T. House Peer Mentoring says often jail is a cold place. But she wants to deliver a message of hope. "We care about you. We love you. And no matter what you've done, we want to help you."

The program is based on a similar women's detox in the Jefferson County Jail in Louisville.

One thing missing in Hamilton County's program is medical detox. Some months ago Sheriff Jim Neil and Major Charmaine McGuffy say they proposed a full 18 bed build out and because of the cost were turned down by County Commissioners.

If they do get funding, the jail would like to expand the program to more of its inmates including males.