Perry County looking to address substance abuse with opioid settlement funding

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Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 3:31 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The Perry County Fiscal Court received almost $800,000 in opioid settlement funds.

They are looking to spend a chunk of it at the Kentucky River Regional Jail.

“Jail serves a purpose, and it holds violent criminals that commit acts against society, but when you try to arrest your way out of a drug problem, we’ve seen that it does not work,” Perry County Judge Executive Scott Alexander said.

The Kentucky River Regional Jail serves multiple counties, but it was built without areas like classrooms or multiple recovery cells that can benefit drug rehab.

Jail administration say they can create that space with funding.

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“I mean, it’s a perfect place, perfect location for them to receive some kind of training. Some kind of education to deal with the issues they have and, you know, I’m a firm believer really if you got a year in jail over substance abuse, that you need a year in rehab in jail,” Perry County Jailer Minor Allen said.

Addiction recovery specialists believe action in jail can prevent relapse when they leave.

“It’s more than just a criminal act or something that they do that they are fully accountable for. It is a sickness that needs treated,” Spark Ministries Regional Coordinator Jenny Combs said.

Judge Executive Scott Alexander said action will lead people overcoming addiction to feeling more cared for.

“Anytime that we can try to get someone into a program where they can come out, succeed, and become a productive member of society, is what we’re gonna try to accomplish,” said Alexander.

Scott Alexander also said the state government will distribute funding from the opioid settlement through the next 12 years.