While there have been many improvements made in regards to the collaboration between the criminal justice system and addiction treatment services, there are still many gaps to be filled. We have discussed how some police departments have taken it upon themselves to help addicts find the treatment needed to get better, recognizing that for many, treatment is a much more productive alternative than jail. But what about the ones that are still sliding through the cracks and getting caught up within the criminal justice system? What about the people that have served their time in jail, come out and find themselves right back in the same situations because of their unresolved addiction?
Affordable Care Act
Numerous people hoped that the Affordable Care Act that was put in place in 2014 would be able to provide those with addiction, mental health issues and more with the insurance needed when offenders are coming out of incarceration. Yet, as a result Maryland’s prison system is assisting less than a tenth of their inmates with Medicaid upon release, and many other states are not doing so well with the act either. About 90 percent of the inmates that leave Maryland state prisons meet the requirements to receive Medicaid according to an article by NPR.
One of Many
A good majority of the people who cycle in and out of the criminal justice system have some sort of mental illness, and on top of that a good portion will also suffer from an addiction. As we know, for many the two will usually go hand in hand. Stacey McHoul ,who was interviewed on the matter, stated that shortly after her release from prison she began to run out of her prescribed medication for her depression. The prison system did nothing to assist her whatsoever. They did not offer her any prescription refills or even a medicaid card to help her purchase the psychiatric medication she relied on. It took a McHoul no more than a couple of days before this led to the return of her preferred self-medication, heroin. This is just one person – one individual out of the thousands of people who encounter the same problem upon jail and prison release. Addiction treatment and resources are still on the ups and improving, but when resources are not provided for these individuals, even just a Medicaid card for anti-depressants, it is no wonder that they find themselves going in circles with not only the criminal justice system but their addiction and mental health as well.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, call 1-800-203-2024, to determine if inpatient treatment may be the solution.