Ohio to Spend $61 Million on Drug Treatment Services for Inmates

By McCarton Ackerman 07/07/15

The state's department of corrections will no longer perform addiction recovery services.

man cuffed prison.jpg

Ohio is preparing to make a major financial commitment to help prisoners across the state get clean from drugs and alcohol, unveiling new plans expected to cost the state $61 million over the next two years.

As of this month, the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) will no longer run addiction recovery services in state prisons. The Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) department will now take over, which will allow more offenders to have access to treatment.

The current $12.5 million addiction treatment budget will be immediately transported over from DRC to MHAS. The new two-year, $71 billion state budget created by Gov. John Kasich’s administration will also have double the current spending on recovery programs over the next two years. It calls for MHAS to spend $27.4 million on prison drug treatment initiatives this year and $34.3 million in 2017.

Tracy Plouck, the director of MHAS, said the primary focus for now will be in non-violent offenders who are serving sentences of 18 months or less.

“By reducing the state’s overall recidivism rate, we are actually reducing cost to the taxpayer in the long term,” she explained. “We are seeing fewer people who are incarcerated for crimes that could be avoided because the root cause…their addiction…why they might have committed the property crime or drug offense in the first place is no longer occurring,”

Approximately 20,000 inmates leave Ohio prisons each year, but each prisoner who doesn’t return saves the state about $25,000 each year. Inmates who receive drug treatment while behind bars have recidivism rates of just over 10%.

Additional funds will also be requested so that resources can be added to help prisoners land employment when their sentence ends, as well as for access to housing and medication-assisted treatment upon their release. An extra 60 physicians will also be hired over the next six months to work in state prisons.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.