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How to improve addiction treatment in the Suffolk County jail

Daniel S. is a 43-year-old drug addict. He tried to rob a bank while high and pled guilty to attempted robbery. He spoke to the Newsday editorial board from the Suffolk County jail about ways to improve addiction treatment for inmates. He asked that we withhold his last name to avoid embarrassing his family members.

To whom it may concern:

I am an inmate at Suffolk County Correctional Facility. I have been reading your stories about the heroin epidemic here on Long Island and was wondering why you don’t mention anything about us here. The majority of us inmates are incarcerated due to the fact of us getting and using (heroin).

Our rehabilitation needs are not being met here. Almost no one is referred to treatment. With treatment being cheaper than incarceration, I don’t see why it is not more often used as an alternative to incarceration, especially for non-violent offenders.

The monster of addiction inside of us is growing stronger and stronger by the day. If you were to ask the average addict in here if they had a problem, they wouldn’t even know because they are not educated about it.

I have been here two months and in that time have crossed paths with hundreds of inmates with drug problems. I have only seen one released to a rehabilitation facility so far.

Warehousing addicts because of their crimes is not the answer, treatment is.

Remember, we will all be released one day, most of us untreated.

We are your neighbors, you see us at the supermarket, we are your relatives — brother, sister, mother, father et cetera. You drive next to us on the L.I.E.

So is it about punishment (warehousing humans) or getting to the root of the problem (treatment)?

Just because you can’t see us doesn’t mean the problem is fixed.

Sincerely,

Daniel S.

Editor’s note: The writer was an inmate at the Suffolk County jail when this was sent. He asked that we not use his last name to avoid embarrassing his family members.

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