3 states partner with UMass med school to improve inmate substance use treatment

Nearly 65 percent of inmates meet medical criteria for substance use disorder, but 11 percent receive treatment while incarcerated


By C1 Staff

SHREWSBURY, Mass. — In an attempt to improve inmate substance use treatment, the Connecticut and Rhode Island departments of Corrections and sheriffs in Massachusetts are teaming up with UMass Medical School. 

Nearly 65 percent of inmates nationwide meet medical criteria for substance use disorder, but only 11 percent receive treatment while incarcerated. 

Officials said in a news release the initiative will help participants implement evidence-based approaches in prisons and jails. 

"We are always seeking evidence-based best practices to guide our efforts,” Connecticut DOC Commissioner Scott Semple said.

The partnership will assess current screening and treatment practices, make recommendations for improvement and implement proven practices to create models for the facilities.

“Through this partnership, I believe we will enhance our ability to track crucial data, strengthening the delivery of critical health care services to those battling substance use disorders,” Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian said.

Rhode Island DOC has already implemented a medication-assisted treatment program for inmates addicted to buprenorphine, methadone and depot naltrexone. Connecticut has offered methadone treatment to more than 600 people in two different facilities and has plans to expand.

Officials said a second part of the partnership, involving Hepatitis C screening and treatment, will launch in late 2017.

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