TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Corrections and the New Jersey Department of Human Services have awarded $300,000 to the Somerset County Jail in Somerville for medication-assisted opioid treatment for inmates.

Statewide, the collaborative effort awarded $7.8 million to county prisons, according to Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson and Acting Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks. The funding will also create community partnerships to ensure that treatment continues post-release. Funding is made possible through Governor Phil Murphy’s Opioid Initiative.

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“Individuals leaving jail are particularly vulnerable to opioid overdose, and the death rate post-release from jail is significantly higher than in the overall population,” Johnson said. “It is imperative that we treat people with opioid use disorder with the clinical standard of care before they are released and maintain treatment post-release. We are pleased that the County Wardens are partnering with us in this critical effort to provide medication-assisted opioid treatment. We look forward to working together with them to turn the tide of this epidemic.”

“Individuals who suffer from substance use disorder that are existing county correctional facilities are particularly vulnerable to overdose,” said Hicks. “This collaboration that includes Medication-Assisted Treatment and critical support post-release is imperative to maintaining these individuals on a recovery trajectory.”

This initiative builds on New Jersey’s prison medication-assisted opioid treatment program, where Human Services and the Department of Corrections partner to bring addiction treatment into state prisons. The collaboration is providing peer services that expand pre- and post-release recovery support services to individuals within the Department of Corrections with an opioid use disorder or other substance use, and facilitates continuity of care and treatment that includes comprehensive medical, substance use treatment and social services.

“Through this powerful collaboration, we are connecting them to lifesaving treatment at a catalytic moment and getting individuals back on track to leading healthy and fulfilling lives,” said Acting Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “From a public health perspective, it is these types of bold and evidence-based initiatives that will ultimately lead to reducing the stigma around the epidemic and getting us to the other side.”

The first phase of this initiative was a pilot program in Atlantic County supported by the Department of Human Services through which the Atlantic County jail began providing medication-assisted treatment to individuals in the facility with opioid use disorder and connecting them to treatment post-release. The county jail partners with the John Brooks Recovery Center.