The opioid crisis continues to be a major factor in crimes leading to incarceration in our region. On February 1, the Cumberland County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) expanded its Medicated Assisted Treatment Program (MAT) through a project called Living in Freedom Everyday or “LIFE”. Warden Richard T. Smith of the Cumberland County DOC, in describing the program stated, “Project LIFE is a voluntary Medication Assisted Treatment Program that will be offered to our inmates suffering from opioid abuse disorder.” Warden Smith continued, “The Cumberland County DOC has received a grant of approximately $167,000 from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), to expand the use of Medication Assisted Treatment beginning at the intake process of incarceration.”
Offered in partnership with the DMHAS, the initiative will assist inmates with opioid addiction coming into custody with the often-serious physical and behavioral consequences of detoxification. Medication Assisted Treatment and related therapy can ease symptoms and allow the inmate to move through their withdrawal safely and successfully. Grant funding for the LIFE program will enable the CCDOC to treat up to 92 inmates annually.
Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella praised the program stating, “This comprehensive treatment program is designed to address the motivation for criminal activity, not just the results, thereby reducing the chances that the individual will commit another offense.” Freeholder Deputy Director Darlene Barber cited the program’s rigorous assessment criteria for inmate inclusion as a basis for its success stating, “The program is multi-faceted and includes in-depth education and counseling to minimize the risk of relapse.”
Prior to admission into the program, inmates who wish to participate, must meet certain criteria through assessments by the Cumberland County DOC Social Services Department and the Center for Family Guidance. Once accepted into the program, plans are developed for continued care in the community upon release. Warden Smith summed up the program describing it as, “an evidenced based program that features rigorous and focused screening, education, medication treatment and support to give inmates the best chance to avoid relapse and re-incarceration after release.”