JERSEYVILLE - Jersey County Sheriff Nick Manns recently announced his Sheriff’s Office is utilizing various tools, programs, and partnerships in an effort to combat drug abuse among Jersey County Jail inmates. Manns said in a public service announcement on June 7 that these efforts are meant to “put them on a better path.”

“Jersey County Jail has a purpose. It is used to incarcerate those who violate the laws of our society,” Manns said. “Still, for those inmates who do not end up in prison, if there are opportunities to put them on a better path, it is our belief that we should try. If we could right the path of even one inmate out of fifty, we would likely prevent future crimes and make our county even safer. That is the goal.”

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Manns added that state laws and the current political climate call for “a more comprehensive approach” to law enforcement. He said illegal drug distribution, use, and abuse is “perhaps the most serious and pervasive criminal threat” in Jersey County, and that it affects the entire community.

“Drug abuse affects all of us. Can you think of a family who has not been touched by illegal drugs? Whose family has not had a member who was a drug user or the victim of a drug-related crime?” he said. “It affects all of us, which means all of us must think about how we can affect it. JCSO (Jersey County Sheriff’s Office) Corrections is doing their part in the Jersey County Jail.”

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He then outlined the steps his office his taken recently and plans to take in the future:

  1. At the beginning of this year, the Sheriff’s Office invited Amare into the Jersey County Jail. Amare refers to itself as a "Recovery Community Organization" and they have a new recovery community center in Wood River. Amare has served Jersey County for some time, offering recovery support services and coaches with real-life experience. They are now visiting the jail on a weekly basis. Not only are they counseling inmates, but they are also offering them invaluable services, opportunities, and alternatives upon their release in hopes of ensuring those inmates do not return.
  2. In collaboration with Pastor Gibson from Eastland Baptist Church, Jersey County's new Church Alliance is working to bring additional religious services and guidance to the jail to those who desire them.
  3. Correctional Officers are creating a digital "resource guide" which will be available on every kiosk in every cell in the jail. For the first time, inmates will be able to access the guide to look for, review, and consider the many resources and alternatives available to them while incarcerated and upon release. “All they must do is make the choice to change,” Manns said.
  4. Lastly, the JCSO is partnering with Jersey Community Hospital (JCH) to bring the Medication Assisted Recovery (MAR) program to the jail. “Fairly new science/medicine suggests that many drug addicts are suffering from a diagnosable chronic disease of the brain, known as substance use disorder (SUD). Moreover, some SUDs, such as opioid and alcohol use disorders, can be treated with certain medications,” Manns said. “Throughout the country, Medication Assisted Recovery is being used to treat those addicted to certain drugs.”

The JCH MAR Clinic has been utilizing MAR to assist individuals with addiction since 2019. As part of the new partnership, JCH sought and obtained a grant to implement the MAR program in the Jersey County Jail. Manns added that the program's logistics are still being worked through, but they are hoping to implement it very soon.

JCH Health Care is hosting a "Community Conversation on Opioid Use Disorder” throughout the month of June, with more details available on the flyer below this story. Manns encouraged the community to attend these events to learn more about this issue.

“At the JCSO, we know that the most complex societal problems require the participation, knowledge, and assistance of the whole community. No one entity can tackle it on their own,” he said. “If you have a loved one with a SUD or are interested in how MAR can help protect our community, please consider attending one of these conversations.”

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