“After two decades of rapidly rising incarceration rates—rates that continued to rise even as crime sat at record historic lows—America today has nearly 2.2 million adult inmates in local, state and federal jails and prisons, including about 300,000 who have a history of heroin addiction. The Bureau of Prisons spends $110 million annually on drug treatment programs for approximately 80,000 inmates identified as dependent on narcotics. But for the 10,000 or so federal inmates dependent on heroin or other opioids, millions of those dollars are currently spent on outdated, ineffective approaches that wrongly prohibit medication-assisted therapies—approaches that, in other words, fail to help prisoners addicted to opioids during their sentence and ultimately return them afterwards to society as addicted as they were when they went into jail.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A recent study of opioid-dependent inmates leaving Rikers Island jail in New York City showed that nearly nine out of ten inmates who were not medicated relapsed within a month, as opposed to just 2 out of 5 inmates who were on medication-assisted treatment. The difference to society between those two numbers—in terms of health outcomes, reduced crime, and improved employment stability—is huge.”
Source: Politico.com – March 11, 2015