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POLICE: Drug pilot program to expand in Chicago AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim
AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim

A pilot program that gives detainees arrested for drugs the option of treatment or jail time is planning to expand, according to the Chicago Police Department.

According to both Fox32 and the Chicago Sun-Times, the department started the program back in 2016. Its purpose was to help lower the annual heroin and fentanyl overdose deaths on the city’s west side.

“Through our diversion pilot program, these individuals receive the treatment they need in a proper facility and not in a jail cell,” said police Supt. Eddie Johnson according to the news outlet. He continued:

“This approach has led to significantly reduced recidivism rates for those in the pilot and has shown us the path forward as we look to expand this effort.”

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According to Fox32, The University of Chicago Health lab studied the results of the program and according to Professor Harold Pollack, the police did a good job of selecting candidates who did not have violent histories.

“The police demonstrated that these people could be safely diverted,” Pollack said.

Additionally, Pollack said the program saved Chicago and Cook County money that would have otherwise been spent on both prosecuting and housing the detainees in the criminal-justice system, according to the news outlet.

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Next year, the department is planning to expand the program according to the news outlet. Patrol officers will identify candidates fro diversion and experts will evaluate them for entry into the appropriate therapy under the revamped program. The department hopes to grow the program citywide, according to Fox32.

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According to the news outlet, Pollack said he expects about two people a day to be recruited to the expanded program.

“It’s not going to be a massive thing, but a helpful thing,” Pollack said.

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