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Viewpoints from Readers: Addiction help for inmates met with skepticism

August 2, 2018

Word that a new addiction recovery pilot program is coming to the Western Regional Jail brought reaction from some readers, most of it skeptical about how it would work out.

The program, announced last week as Gov. Jim Justice and other officials gathered to provide updates on the opioid epidemic and crime, will serve 32 male and 32 female inmates in Cabell, Wayne and Putnam counties. Western Regional Jail also serves Lincoln and Mason counties.

To be eligible, inmates must be nonviolent offenders and be willing to participate. Judges may also sentence inmates to the program, and to reward successful completion of the program with sentence reduction.

The regional jail system currently has no addiction treatment. Here are some readers’ comments:

Terriell Richard Sperry: “Wait, wait, wait, so the free needles didn’t combat this issue?”

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Scott Riggs: “The needle exchange isn’t designed to treat addiction. They get information regarding addiction and releases to seek help.”

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Pamela Ross Arnold: “Enable, enable, enable ... jail, then treatment.”

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Allison Scites: “How is having a treatment program in jail enabling?”

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Pamela Ross Arnold: “It was enabling before with providing free needles, ‘safe’ place to shoot up and Narcan available when needed. Not treatment.”

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Jeffrey A. Ward: ”$440,000 to treat 32 male inmates and 32 female inmates. ... Lots and lots of money in this new industry of drug addiction.”

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Erica Atkins: “Better late than never, I guess.”

Readers split on release of pill data

A federal judge last week blocked the Cabell County Commission and local governments across the U.S. from releasing information that details the number of prescription opioids that drug firms shipped to West Virginia and other states. HD Media, which includes the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Herald-Dispatch, had asked a judge to allow the Cabell County Commission, which along with hundreds of other local governments, is suing the drug firms, to release the pill shipping data.

In his ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster noted that counties suing drug manufacturers and distributors had agreed to a “protective order” that prohibited the public release of the pain-pill data. He concluded there was “good cause” to keep the protective order, saying the DEA database of pill shipments contains information that’s sensitive to drug distributors and pharmacies. The same data also is “crucial to law enforcement efforts,” the judge wrote.

Here are readers’ comments on the issue:

Tanya McComas: Knowing the numbers holds them accountable. NO FAKE NEWS IN NUMBERS.”

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Melissa Nicholas: “How much money has his campaign received?”

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Chris Callicoat: “None, federal judge aren’t elected. Instead, he noted an agreement the counties suing made with the drug firms: “Counties suing drug manufacturers and distributors had agreed to a protective order that prohibited the public release of the pain-pill data.′ Basically, the counties agreed not to release the data, then decided to try and violate that agreement. While I feel that data should be out, it needs to be done legally or it can’t be used against the manufacturers.”

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Randy Miller: “Hmmm. What are they ashamed of?”

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Linda Joyce Click: “People who have chronic pain are suffering because the federal government has stuck its nose in where it has no business. I agree with this judge. Not everyone is an addict, but doctors are afraid to prescribe them anything for pain. It’s ridiculous.”

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Sharon Kay Cobb Thompson: “My sister has chronic pain. They won’t give her anything for it. She walks on a walker and she’s all bent over. She has had her leg fractured. They gave her pain pills for that for 5 days. ... The reason she has chronic pain is because she worked as a janitor for the school system in Kanawha County. ... She is in pain all the time. She worked there for over 30 years. ... God Bless her.”

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