Marion County Sheriff’s Office planning to use over $300,000 for substance abuse treatment for inmates

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Sheriff’s Office went before the Indianapolis City-County Council’s Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee seeking approval to use grants for substance abuse treatment for inmates. They are also planning to use $105,000 in special funds to lease more than 60 tasers and purchase 120 gas masks.

The money for treatment and counseling for those incarcerated comes from federal, state, and local grants. The sheriff’s office plans to use $233,596.00 for inmate care supplies, equipment tracking software, and to fund the salary of a coordinator to provide medication-assisted treatment to certain incarcerated people.

“A portion for the reason of recidivism is due to the fact that people don’t get the services they absolutely need to help them with their addiction versus the things that they do while they are using the substances,” Deputy Chief Tanesha Crear, Jail Commander, said. “If we can get them that help while in the facility and provide that soft handoff to individuals in the community that can help them once they leave our facility, that may decrease the level of recidivism that we’re seeing in that particular section of individuals.”

The state and local grant dollars, totaling $68,420, will be used to fund overtime for jail staff who are transporting those incarcerated struggling with substance abuse disorders to treatment, paying for the treatment contracts and substance use disorder group classes, and one-on-one peer recovery virtual sessions.

The dollars for the gas masks and tasers come from State and Federal Law Enforcement Funds, the Sex-Violent Offender Admin Fund, and the Law Enforcement Continuing Education Fund. This is all according to records presented by the MCSO.

Sheriff Kerry Forestal told councilors Wednesday the gas masks are necessary for the department’s deputies.

“Because of the recent disruptions we’ve had in the city and we’ve had in this building alone, whether we deploy it, someone else deploys it, or there’s the national guard, we can’t place deputy sheriff’s in harm’s way,” Forestal said. “When we transport a prisoner from the scene and send a van into a scene, we can’t send them into someplace without a gas mask. Because thankfully this has not been a long-term problem in our city, that was not a stockpile that we had. So, the looking ahead that hopefully does not happen again, but I can’t send deputies in there without a mask.”

None of this money comes from the city’s general fund. This is only grant money and unused state and federal dollars for the agency.

The public safety and criminal justice sent the proposal to the full council for a future vote.

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