On Friday, July 8, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received notice of a grant award from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich in the amount of $2.5 million. The award will fund a program designed to reduce opioid abuse and recidivism for inmates leaving the Coconino County Jail and provide an immediate connection to social, behavioral, housing, transportation, and legal services. This program, called Pathways to Community, is a collaborative partnership between the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Coconino County Health and Human Services (CCHHS). The program provides an in-custody assessment for inmates as they enter the jail to identify needs and resources available to assist in a successful transition back into the community when they are released. Directly upon release from custody, individuals are provided the opportunity to connect with available resources based on the needs identified from the initial assessment.
Access to substance abuse and opioid education, mental health services, education, employment, housing, transportation, social services, and health care are key to decreasing incarceration. Diversion programs such as Pathways to Community can break the cycle of violence, substance abuse, and criminal activity that can impact generations. In Coconino County, there is a pressing need for an alternative to incarceration.
“The connection between improving public health, which Coconino County Health and Human Services focuses on, and improving public safety, which we focus on is clear. We want people to improve their lives, access the resources they need, and in-turn, stay out of our jails. Pathways to Community is going to help make this possible for more people,” said Sheriff Jim Driscoll.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office understands the need to evolve to meet the needs of a population battling psychological trauma, mental illness, and addiction. There is a direct correlation between public health and public safety, and there is a clear need to address the clinical and criminogenic risk of the detained and re-entering inmate population. It is through programming while incarcerated and strong partnerships during the transition to community where the most success will be achieved.
Sheriff Jim Driscoll would like to thank the Office of the Arizona Attorney General and Arizona State Representative Regina Cobb for their support of this program.