Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler is being quite compassionate with his agency's creation of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Unit at the Harford County Detention Center.
The sheriff and his agency have been doing what they can to not only break the crisis of opioid addiction in our county, but also in our county jail.
This new approach provides help to those who say they are ready to be helped.
"Really, the goal is to provide support for individuals who are ready to help themselves," Michael Capasso, the jail's warden, said. "We hope when they leave here, they are less likely to not only become a statistic, but to become a burden on the community and commit crimes in the community."
The Sheriff's Office, the county, state and federal governments and all of us should be doing whatever we can to help those who have succumbed to the darkness that is opioid addiction. The life we save may be someone we love.
The unit was formed, appropriately enough, after Gahler created HOPE, the agency's Heroin Overdose Prevention Effort, shortly after he became sheriff. Those suffering from addiction too frequently have neither hope nor anywhere to turn for the help that would give them hope.
It's unfortunate they have to be in jail to get help, but better to be helped behind bars than not at all.
One of the inmates in the program put into perspective: "It's not something I wanted to do," he said. "But I actually wanted to come here so I could take advantage of having a program in this environment in jail."
A great difficulty facing those addicted to opioids is even though they want to get clean, and do so, is they are susceptible to relapse. Relapses for those who have broken their cycle of addiction can be deadly.
"It sucks to be locked up," that inmate said, "but I'm happy to be alive."
He and others like him passing through the Harford County Detention Center are lucky the Sheriff's Office is treating them not only as criminals, but also as those who are sick and in need of treatment.