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Post-jail rehab program’s success depends on community involvement

EDITORIAL OPINION

The Advocate-Messenger

We’re excited about the potential of the post-jail drug rehabilitation program Boyle and Mercer counties are implementing.

The program fills what has been a massive gap in treatment for inmates and people who were recently in jail. Once the program is launched, inmates with drug addiction problems will be given all kinds of support and training to help them turn their lives around.

Instead of simply putting these inmates back on the street and into situations where they’re likely to return to drugs and then eventually jail, we’ll be giving them a better option.

It’s a forward-thinking plan that targets the root of the problem rather than the symptoms.

Officials haven’t been ignoring this problem — it’s been one of the main issues they’ve been focused on for years now. That’s thanks in part to the skyrocketing costs to jail more and more people more and more frequently.

Now, Lexington-based Shepherd’s House has been chosen to run the program for $132,000 a year — though if recidivism shrinks and the economy improves thanks to this program, it’s possible it could pay for itself in the long run.

But more important than the selection of Shepherd’s House is the community involvement in this project. Non-profits, governments, businesses and individuals are all rallying around the plan and offering whatever they can to make it successful.

The greatest plan in the world will still fail if people won’t buy into it. And even mediocre plans can be wildly successful when people are committed to them.

This project is the best of both worlds — a great plan with deep and wide support.

Boyle Jailer Barry Harmon says other communities have seen success in reducing recidivism with similar programs.

We’re hopeful once this program gets off the ground, it can exceed all expectations. We’re hopeful other communities will be traveling to Boyle and Mercer counties to learn how we made such a big dent in the drug epidemic.

To accomplish this, however, we cannot waiver or become complacent. We cannot sit back and say, “now that this drug program is in place, drugs are no longer a problem.”

We cannot implement a high-quality program without community involvement — that would be like building a state-of-the-art school but not hiring any teachers, or holding a church service without a congregation.

We all need to keep talking about our communities’ drug problems; we need to keep demanding solutions — and volunteering to help when solutions demand work; we need to be both positive role models and compassionate friends to those around us who are battling addiction.

We’ve seen a lot of involvement and commitment so far, which is why we’re optimistic. Hopefully, that commitment remains solid once the rubber meets the road.