CLARION – Clarion County Jail officials recently said they are anticipating the jail to have administered its first Vivitrol injection to an outgoing inmate by this time next month.
Vivitrol — a once-a-month injection that prevents its users from feeling the effects of heroin or other opioids — was just one of several drug-related topics discussed at the Nov. 9 meeting of the Prison Board.
Jail Warden Jeff Hornberger explained that after getting tips on what procedures work and don’t from other area jails which have seen success by offering the drug, he believes Clarion County Jail medical staff will be prepared to start offering Vivitrol to volunteering inmates upon their release from the Paint Township facility as early as next week.
“There’s one inmate I anticipate being released after the next gagnon [probation] hearings...who could be our first possible recipient,” Hornberger said, noting that before the injection can be administered, qualifying inmates must successfully pass liver checks and drug and alcohol screenings three days prior to their release.
Hornberger added that the first Vivitrol injection at the jail is “100 percent” covered by the drug company, with subsequent injections — provided once a month by a visiting Vivitrol van in the SMI parking lot — being covered by an individual’s private insurance or medical assistance upon their release.
“The statistics out there show it’s very successful,” he said, adding that the jail plans to work collaboratively with the county District Attorney’s office as well as Adult Probation to track the success rates of Vivitrol users following their release from jail.
Clarion County District Attorney and prison board member Mark Aaron said that while no one is declaring Vivitrol “a silver bullet” yet, he agrees that the option is definitely worth pursuing as it seems to effectively curb a user’s cravings.
“Everyone’s on board,” Aaron said. “Maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
In other business during the meeting, Hornberger reported that the local jail was recently faced with the serious possibility of being “overrun with prisoners” following a large county-wide drug bust, causing 10 out of the 16 individuals to be jailed in one day.
“It keeps things hopping,” Hornberger said, noting the jail’s population on the day of the meeting to be 119 inmates.
Although still operating under budget, Hornberger said the increasing number of inmates continues to drive up the jail’s costs, especially in the line items of medical and food which currently have used 84 and 83 percent respectively of their yearly budgets.
“I don’t know what it is, but everyone wants to come to jail to have all their ailments fixed,” he continued, explaining that inmates cannot be denied necessary medical care. “We’re only doing what’s necessary.”
As one of the biggest medical expenses, Hornberger said he talked to the contracted jail psychiatrist about the possibility of curtailing costs by using alternative or generic medications in his treatment.
Another concern is the number of inmates who visit the dentist for tooth extractions, which oftentimes, Hornberger said, is the result of a pre-existing condition.
“I tell the doctor all the time that I don’t want them abstracting teeth unless its medically necessary,” Hornberger said. He noted that many inmates come in with “meth teeth” that are rotting out because of the chemicals used in the drug. “I don’t think we should be on the hook...that’s a preexisting condition. That’s something we didn’t create.”
• The board gave approval for Aaron to use forfeiture funds to hang posters throughout the jail warning inmates and visitors of the consequences if they are caught bringing contraband into the facility.
Aaron said anyone caught attempting to bring in contraband could face a mandatory two-year state prison sentence.
• A memorandum of understanding with the Indiana County Prison was also approved. The MOU was put in place for emergencies in which Clarion would need additional inmate housing. As stated in the agreement, the cost for Indiana to house an inmate is $55 per day.