Lewis and Clark County selected to participate in national initiative to expand opioid treatment in jails




Helena -- Lewis and Clark County today announced it has been selected to participate in a national program to expand medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in jails. 

The County will receive expert guidance on how to overcome barriers to providing opioid treatment and scholarships for five staff members to attend trainings in Washington, D.C. Experts will work with jail officials to create treatment guidelines, manage administration of the medications, and educate jail staff about addiction.

Lewis and Clark County will also develop a plan with local health care officials to ensure people can access treatment after they’re released. The program is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Arnold Ventures, a national philanthropy headquartered in Houston, Texas. In addition to supporting efforts to expand treatment for opioid use disorder, the philanthropy is also working to improve the criminal justice system through reforms to policing, pretrial, probation and parole, and reintegration services. 

“The opioid epidemic has reached rural Montana and we are experiencing the related deaths in our communities,” said Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton. “Use and abuse of OxyContin, Hydrocodone, Heroin and Fentanyl are prevalent in staggering numbers. We are honored to be selected for this grant. It will benefit our detention center and the community through education and helping people have a productive life.”

Jails are at the epicenter of the opioid crisis. Tens of thousands of people with opioid use disorder pass through the corrections system each year, but only about 30 of the 3,200 jails in the country offer the opioid medications methadone and buprenorphine. These medications have been shown by research to be the most effective forms of treatment. Most individuals instead go through detoxification, which lowers tolerance levels without curbing opioid cravings and dramatically raises the risk that people will overdose after they’re released.

“Unfortunately, Lewis and Clark County has not been immune to the opioid epidemic,” said Lewis and Clark County Criminal Justice Services Director Kellie McBride. “Families have been shattered, opioid related deaths have increased and criminal justice costs have risen. Selection to participate in this planning program provides us with an opportunity to learn from our peers and from national experts as we develop a thoughtful plan specific to our community.”

Lewis and Clark County is one of 15 jurisdictions that will participate in the Planning Initiative to Build Bridges between Jail and Community-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. The selected sites span the country from the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center in Helena, which has 80 beds, to Cook County Jail in Chicago, the largest single-site jail in the United States.  

For more information about the Planning Initiative to Build Bridges between Jail and Community-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, visit www.arnoldventures.org/work/the-opioid-epidemic.

About Arnold Ventures

Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. Founded by Laura and John Arnold in 2010, Arnold Ventures’ core mission is to improve lives by investing in evidence-based solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. The philanthropy has offices in Houston, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Full List of Selected Sites

Camden County, NJ
Chesterfield County, VA
Clackamas County, OR
Cook County, IL
Cumberland County ME
Durham County, NC
Eaton County, MI
Hudson County, NJ
Ingham County, MI
Jefferson County, KY
Lewis and Clark County, MT
Marion County, IN
Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines Parishes, LA
Shelby County, TN
St. Louis County, MN

Kellie McBride
Criminal Justice Services Director