January 20, 2020
This article in the most recent edition of the New Hampshire Bar News begins:
“Late in August, a woman wrapped in a padded, quilted garment appears passed out on the floor of a locked cell at the Hillsborough County House of Corrections, familiarly known as the Valley Street jail or just Valley.
“‘It’s actually the safest place for her,’ says jail Superintendent David Dionne. The woman, he explains, is detoxing.”
This woman is among the 18 inmates — eight women and ten men — who are detoxing. Added to the nine other inmates on suicide watch, this group accounts for 11 percent of the 245 people being detained on that day. Meanwhile, Hillsborough County’s rate of overdose deaths per capita stands at 2.23 per 10,000 residents, the second-highest rate in New Hampshire.
And while the State does not publish figures regarding the number of inmates with substance abuse problems, statistics show that fully one-half of the inmates at the state prison have a diagnosis of Opioid Use Disorder.
As Cheshire County Jail superintendent Richard Van Winkler has said, the biggest mental health facility in any community is the local jail.
I’m not sure I have the solution, but I sure know what the problem is.