Region hit hard by opioids embraces jail-based treatment | TribLIVE.com
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Region hit hard by opioids embraces jail-based treatment

Associated Press
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AP
Clients watch TV at the Stonybrook Stabilization and Treatment Center at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Mass. Sheriff Thomas Cocchi and his supporters have said the program, one of just three in the state treating civilly committed men and the only in western Massachusetts, can play a key role in efforts to curb the Springfield area’s opioid problem.
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AP
Bunk beds line the wall of a dormitory-style room at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department’s minimum security, residential treatment facility in Springfield, Mass. The county jail is marking one year of treating men civilly committed for substance abuse reasons.
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AP
Israel Rivera (left) and Michael Manning greet each other during a group counseling session at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department’s minimum security, residential treatment facility in Springfield, Mass.
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AP
Clients gather in an open area at the Stonybrook Stabilization and Treatment Center at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Mass.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Officials in western Massachusetts are embracing a controversial tactic amid a dramatic spike in fatal overdoses: sending men to jail for court-ordered addiction treatment.

Hampden County Sheriff Thomas Cocchi has designated a jail wing for the treatment of men civilly committed for substance abuse reasons.

Cocchi and his supporters say the year-old program, which is the only one of its kind in western Massachusetts, is key to curbing the county’s opioid problem.

Fatal overdoses have surged more than 80% in Hampden County even as they’ve declined statewide.

But Bonnie Tenneriello, of Prisoners’ Legal Services, says forcing people into correctional facilities for treatment only stigmatizes addiction.

The civil rights group is suing the state to end the practice. A state commission also recently recommended ending it.

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