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Butte jail seeking addiction treatment to help with overcrowding

Posted at 11:26 AM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 13:26:10-04

BUTTE - How bad is the opioid crisis in Butte? The overcrowded Butte Detention Center shows that incarceration is not a strong enough deterrent against addiction.

“We’re not going to be able to arrest our way out of this crisis. It’s a crisis that’s going to have to be confronted on a number of levels,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.

The jail was designed to hold 72 inmates have been over 120 inmates in recent weeks.

Sheriff Lester is working with local health agencies to come up with a program that will take non-violent drug offenders and get them into local treatment programs to work on their addictions rather than keep them locked up.

“And this seems to be the most science-based approach where there’s diversion and there’s medically assisted treatment. That seems to have helped in areas where they’ve been dealing with this crisis a lot longer than we have,” said Lester.

Compounding the problem as the jail is short-staffed aggravates the issue of overcrowding.

“You know, the jail’s like a little city, we’ve got cooks there that serve about 400 meals a day, we have medical personnel that see the inmates, there’s mental health counseling, drug counseling, I mean, it’s a full-time operation,” said Sheriff Lester.

It will take time to get the treatment program going, but law enforcement assures that overcrowding won’t stop the function of the jail.

“We’ll always make room for anybody who’s dangerous, we’ll always have room for those folks, it doesn’t matter whether we’re at capacity or over capacity or not, we’re always going to put those people in jail,” said Sheriff Lester.

The jail is usually staffed with 28 Corrections Officers but is down to only 20. People have until Oct. 12 to apply to become a Corrections Officer at