Drug-addicted inmates in Erie County who are forced clean while they are in jail will now be given more opportunities to stay clean after they are released. The County Legislature unanimously approved the creation of three new positions in the Sheriff's Office and the Department of Mental Health Thursday to jumpstart a new program that links interested inmates with outpatient addiction therapy after they leave the Holding Center.
The three positions will cost the county $144,889 in salaries, plus employee benefits.
Nearly 42 percent of the 15,700 inmates at the Holding Center last year came addicted to drugs and went through detox, but until now the county has had no program to link inmates to treatment after their release.
Some legislators shared concerns that the approach for dealing with opioid addictions is still greatly flawed, and that all sides need to work together to remove barriers to life-saving treatment.
Others pointed out that the positions approved represent a permanent, ongoing cost to the county and said they want to see some program accountability.