Updated Fri, Jan 10, 2014 12:53 pm
Athens County Prosecutor Keller J. Blackburn is spearheading an effort to obtain grant funding to expand treatment for drug offenders while incarcerated.
A grant application asking for over $200,000 has been filed with the Office of Criminal Justice Services.
Blackburn hopes that if treatment options, through the grant, are expanded during incarceration that it will stem the tide of repeat offenders.
“While this is merely an application for funds, I am hopeful that we will be successful and that we will be able to do more to treat those addicted to drugs, thus reducing the number of repeat offenders,” Blackburn said.
The grant application was submitted at the end of December and the Prosecutor is currently awaiting a response.
The grant application was submitted with the assistance of Dr. Joe Gay of Health Recovery Services (HRS). Blackburn currently runs a drug diversion program through HRS and other treatment agencies. This grant would expand treatment options to those drug offenders in jail.
“HRS is very excited about Mr. Blackburn’s proposal. It is our experience that one of the best times to intervene in a drug problem is when the person is in crisis. Having been charged with a felony definitely qualifies as a crisis in most people’s lives. Having the option of holding the person in jail, isolated from ready access to drugs and drug using peers is another big plus,” Gay said.
“Even since taking office, the Prosecutor has been very proactive in seeking effective interventions for those who can benefit from treatment of their drug addiction,” Gay added.
Gay’s sentiments are echoed by Athens County Commission Charlie Adkins.
“I am encouraged with the efforts being made by the Prosecutor’s Office and look forward to working closely with all of those involved in this endeavor. The benefits to the citizens of Athens County, not only to provide help to those that are struggling with a drug addiction problem, but also the saving this will provide in incarceration fees are both something I feel strongly about,” Adkins said.
“This issue is especially important to me as I have had multiple people close to me struggle with addiction,” Adkins noted.
Blackburn has received additional cooperation in the grant from the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail, the Athens County Court of Common Please, the Ohio Adult Parole Authority and the Public Defender’s Office.