As part of recent funding by the Department of Justice, a program at the Grays Harbor County Jail is receiving $600,000 to be used to expand their jail-based system of care and re-entry continuum.

According to grant documents, in January of 2020, Grays Harbor Public Health received $600,000 in funding through the Rural Response to the Opioid Epidemic demonstration project.

One of the initiatives of that award was to institutionalize a System of Care (SOC) in the Grays Harbor County Jail to address opioid use disorder. 

The documents state that this included an intensive planning process, hiring a Substance Use Disorder Professional (SUDP), increasing access to Buprenorphine, initiating recovery classes in the jail for program participants, and contracting with a community agency to provide social service support (including housing) upon re-entry. 

“There has been significant foundational work done in creating and implementing this SOC, and the community is beginning to realize the benefits of addressing behavioral health care needs during incarceration”. 

Implementation of the program began in March 2021, and GHSO states that they have been able to serve 45 individuals since then. Of those participants, 70% were listed as either being homeless or with unstable housing, 48% with no high school diploma/GED equivalent, and 86% were unemployed. 

GHSO said that during the process they have worked with county prosecutors to secure alternative sentencing for 6 individuals by arranging for long-term inpatient rehabilitation instead of prison time. 

“Our County’s population of just under 74,000 has one of the highest incarceration rates in the state of like-sized jails. This program has not only strengthened ties with law enforcement, the judicial system, behavioral health agencies and public health, it has also had an impact on individuals with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) who are returning to the community in a state of sobriety and genuinely working toward their recovery goals.”

Data shared in the documents indicated that methamphetamine was the drug most associated with overdose deaths in the county, at 65% of cases, while fentanyl was at 29%, prescription opioids at 29% and heroin at 19%. 

The funding is intended to expand services by increasing capacity in the Grays Harbor County Jail to serve individuals who have a psychostimulant disorder, including additional staff time for medical monitoring, managing recovery groups, and bolstering re-entry supports. 

“The goal of this expanded SOC would be to increase the number of affected individuals returning to the community with established sobriety and behavioral health supports, decrease morbidity and mortality for those individuals and to decrease recidivism.”