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New York Sheriff Shows Us How to Win the War on Drugs!

Craig AppleCraig Apple, county sheriff in Albany County, New York, is joining the crusade made popular by Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Chief Leonard Campanello to use law enforcement resources to get drug addicts into and through treatment. I am so thrilled with Apple, and Campanello and all the law enforcement guys who are doing this sort of thing. They really could change the whole drug scene – this is the way to win the war on drugs!

Sheriff Apple has only been on the job since June 2011, although he was the department for 20 years prior, but he’s already made some very impressive changes:

  • Inmates are now doing public works projects
  • He is getting veterans involved in Soldier On – a non-profit dedicated to providing housing for homeless vets. Apple’s intention was to reduce recidivism – which is generally about 40 peercent. In New York, recidivism is defined as going back to jail within three years. So far, recidivism for the inmates involved in the Solider On project is below2 percent.
  • Inmates are now training dogs, who live with them at the jail.
  • And the inmates also have a garden.
  • He’s installing a $23 million county-wide communication system to enable emergency responders to talk by radio and thereby become more effective.

And many more things are on his list.

What is Sheriff Apple Doing About Drugs?

According to the superintendent of Albany’s county jail, the number of prisoners arriving who are addicted to heroin is increasing.

To combat this trend for drugs overall, Apple started the Sheriff’s Heroin Addiction Recovery Program (SHARP). This is its first month. According to a recent article in the Alamont Enterprise, Apple “hopes that the program will help turn jail into a positive and even life-changing experience for inmates who are addicted to drugs but want to quit.”

When was the last time you heard that from a law enforcement official?

Here’s how SHARP works:

  • When a new inmate arrives, they’re asked if they’re addicted to any medications or narcotics.
  • If so, they’re told they’re eligible for the SHARP program, which is delivered in a dedicated area of the jail.
  • If they want to get the help they go through withdrawal and get off the drugs, then go through an intensive treatment program.
  • When the inmate is “clean and sober and ready for release,” he’s given an extended release drug called Vivitrol, which blocks the effects of alcohol and narcotics and lasts about one month.
  • The inmate is also driven immediately to whatever treatment facility is considered necessary for the individual’s situation – it might be additional treatment, it might be a halfway house, and so on – so the (now former) inmate can continue doing whatever he has to do to stay clean.

Apple has high hopes for the SHARP program. If drug addicted prisoners want to live clean and healthy lives, he wants to help them do that. And just as he has with the Veteran’s On program, he also wants to reduce the recidivism rate among the drug addict inmate population.

Three cheers for Apple!

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