When a Madison County jail task force examined overcrowding in their jails, they found that about 80 percent of the inmates were there on drug related charges. This led the county to look at how a public-private partnerships could help fund a new substance abuse treatment center
Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said the county’s jail is overcrowded and building a new one would cost about $50 million. He said a new jail would need to have 800 beds and it would probably be full or overcrowded in about ten years. Taylor said he didn’t want to use taxpayer dollars to build a new jail without looking at what they could do to reduce recidivism.
“It didn’t take long looking at our statistics [to realize] that we really didn’t have a jail problem, that we had a drug problem,” he said.
Taylor said Madison County hopes to combat this addiction crisis by building a new substance abuse treatment center. He said the facility will be funded by a public-private partnership, or P3. The partnership allows Madison County to work with a private organization for rehabilitation services and construction, while also providing some funding at the local level.
“We gotta spend money one way or the other. So do we want to spend money to where we just have to continue spending money and kicking the can down the road,” he said. “Or do we want to spend money to where we have a solution.”
Taylor said Madison County will see a return on its investment once former addicts get back into the workforce and become taxpaying citizens. He said many people who start rehab are able to go through the medical detox but often can’t finish the full program because they don’t have the money or insurance to pay for it. He added they don’t get the life skills, job training, education or peer support to help them cope with the stresses of life and prevent relapse.
Taylor wants those services offered to current inmates. The program might also be available as an alternative to serving jail time. Taylor said he was influenced by a woman he met while touring a drug treatment center.
“She said that society looks at us like we’re bad people that need to be good. When in reality we’re sick people that need to be well.".
Taylor said the region’s addiction crisis won’t be solved through law enforcement means alone, and something else needs to be done to help struggling addicts. The treatment center is still in the planning phase and has not settled on a location or size.