New Jersey Jail Bridges The Gap Between The Need for Addiction Treatment and Incarceration

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Today’s society has seen a longstanding relationship between drug addiction and crime. The very basis of addiction involves crime, as possession, manufacturing, and distribution of drugs are all illegal acts. However, there is a connection between drug addiction and other forms of crime, such as driving under the influence, property crime, and even violent crime.

In most scenarios, individuals suffering from addiction commit crimes to obtain drugs. The intense cravings that the individual experiences cause their drug of choice to become their main priority. Oftentimes, this causes the person to abandon their morals and behave in uncharacteristic manners. Because of this, it is important to consider that rehabilitation is the best solution to solving the rising issue of drug-related offenses.

While there is a strong relationship between the need for addiction treatment and the inability to get it due to incarceration, one New Jersey jail is taking steps to bridge the gap.

The Relationship Between Crime and Addiction

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “drug users in the general population are more likely than nonusers to commit crimes”.[1] But why is that?

Substance abuse affects the way an individual’s brain functions. This can cause people’s motivations and behaviors to completely shift, causing the individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to revolve around substance abuse.

When a person with a substance use disorder cannot afford to buy drugs or alcohol, this may cause them to do whatever it takes to obtain those substances. This is why many addicts and recovering addicts have histories of robberies and petty theft charges.

While this doesn’t excuse the individual’s criminal behaviors, it does provide a clear need for rehabilitation. Thankfully, a correctional facility in New Jersey has taken notice of this as well. Somerset County Jail recently began implementing a program that provides inmates with access to medication for opioid use disorder, in hopes of decreasing the number of criminal re-offenders.[2]

New Jersey Jail Connects People to Treatment

As previously mentioned, Somerset County Jail in New Jersey has noticed the connection between addiction and crime. PEW Charitable Trusts has written an article on Somerset Jail, interviewing one of the leaders of the opioid addiction recovery program they have implemented.

Claire R. Daniel, head of the facility’s medical and mental nursing staff, manages the program designed to help inmates recover from addiction to opioids. This program was founded in hopes that providing inmates with the treatment they need will allow them to successfully rejoin their community upon release.

According to the article, “such programs are a key component of healthcare for individuals in the criminal legal system, with 65% of this population estimated to have a substance use disorder (SUD)—but the vast majority of these facilities don’t offer medication treatment.”[2]

Daniel discusses the difficulty that former inmates have to reacclimate into society with a lack of proper support. She states, “oftentimes, they end up back in jail just because when they were outside they couldn’t get any help on their own or from social service organizations—especially during the pandemic.”[2]

One of the most important aspects of the opioid addiction recovery program Somerset Jail is implementing is referring their patients to outside sources of support when they are released from jail. Their program connects these individuals with health insurance, an addiction treatment program, and even transportation services that help them attend their recovery programs.

Daniel spoke on the success of this program, as nearly 80% of former inmates remain on their opioid addiction maintenance medications after leaving the correctional facility. She has noticed that the individuals who attend the first couple of addiction treatment appointments typically remain in recovery. The majority of individuals who participate in Somerset’s OUD program do not return to jail, successfully integrating back into society.

The Importance of Providing Addiction Treatment Services to Inmates

Recidivism is defined as the tendency of a criminal offender to re-offend or commit another crime after being released from jail or prison. The United States’ recidivism rates are stunningly high. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “2 out of 3 people are rearrested and more than 50% are incarcerated again.”[3]

This outlines our justice system’s need for rehabilitation. Simply punishing an individual, especially someone suffering from addiction or mental health conditions, is not enough to prevent them from committing crimes.

While spending time in a correctional facility may motivate some individuals to stop breaking the law, others may leave the facility in a worse mental state than when they entered. This is because the current jail and prison system is lacking in rehabilitation measures.

The benefits of rehabilitation for prisoners include:

  • Reduced recidivism rates
  • Higher rates of employment upon release
  • The ability to obtain higher wages
  • Lower rates of addiction relapse
  • Improved mental health

According to the National Institute of Justice, “About 495,000 of the 750,000 incarcerated persons who will be released this year are likely to be rearrested within three years. With effective programs, [they] could reduce the number of persons who repeatedly commit crimes by nearly 100,000. [They] could do even better if these efforts were linked to improved services in the community upon release.”[4]

Find Help for Yourself or an Addicted Loved One Today

If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, it’s time to consider attending a professional addiction treatment program. Addiction can cause a variety of adverse effects, including social isolation, increased health conditions, legal troubles, and even death.

Addiction treatment programs in New Jersey can help you or your loved one rehabilitate your life. Contact New Jersey Interventions today for more information on how to find help for addiction.



Medically Reviewed: February 22, 2022

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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