HOC inmates rid addiction with holistic approach, UWM study finds

New data from UW-Milwaukee shows a program to help inmates stay clean once released is working. 

UWM is working with the Milwaukee County House of Correction (HOC) on the project. 

For people who end up at the Milwaukee County HOC with an opioid addiction, there's a program to help. 

Milwaukee County House of Correction

"The House of Correction is identifying individuals who have opioid use disorders and are incarcerated for something kind of surrounding their disorder," said Rebecca Headley Konkel. 

Konkel is an assistant professor of criminal justice at UWM.  She helps the HOC track how the program is working. 

"So we’ve collected 343 surveys of incarcerated individuals, and now, about 50 have been released from incarceration, so we’re really working on these followups," she said.

Milwaukee County House of Correction

The medication-assisted treatment program gives inmates Vivitrol to help curb their addiction and also provides a support system. 

"Medication-assisted treatment is a more holistic approach, so individuals in the program also work with case-workers and therapists, other medical personnel and then peer specialists who are individuals who have gone down the same path and then have recovered from addiction," said Konkel.

Now that people are starting to be released, Konkel is finding it's working. 

"The last time I checked the statistics, it was over 90% were giving positive appraisals of the program," she said.

The idea is that if people can overcome addiction, they will stay out of the prison system for good. 

"If individuals are able to have this very structured program that’s working on their addiction while they are incarcerated, it’s one less obstacle for when they’re released," Konkel said.

The program is funded by a Bureau of Justice grant that is set to end in October 2022. 

Konkel is hoping the grant will be renewed to keep the program going. 

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