State and County Need to Talk

Looks like the Ada County Commishes and Sheriff along with the Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare have been training with the Bush administration and Katrina States when it comes to coordinating detox services.Sheriff seal.jpg

Sheriff Gary Raney and Commish Chair Rick Yzaguirre narrowly averted a public meeting at a private club just over a week ago. Their goal was to work on funding a much needed detox center for booze and drug abusers.

The IDAHO STATESMAN opined in an editorial that it was a noble cause, but not at the private Arid Club. The GUARDIAN wrote similar sentiments.

Leave it to a GUARDIAN reader to put things in perspective. From all appearances this is a case of too much government and not enough adherence to the law. Here is the opening sentence to Title 39, section 303 of the Idaho Code:

department of health and welfare is hereby designated as the state substance abuse authority.

To us, that takes Raney and the Commishes off the hook. The law has a total of 11 sections, 39-304 seems to be the most explicit detailing responsibility of the State–not Ada County. Raney had talked of a separate entrance apart from the jail and we can see some fancy footwork coming defining inmate treatment vs detox for non-inmates, but the State simply needs to pony up the cash on this one.

The GUARDIAN will be making inquiries of both the State and County to find out why the H&W has not lived up to its responsibilities, which include providing reports and holding commission meetings. All this at a time when Guv Dirk is promising to come up with the money to fund expansion of Idaho prison facilities.

Maybe, just maybe the Guv and his finance boys should look at PREVENTING some of the prison crowding through DRUG and ALCOHOL TREATMENT… just like the law says they should. We caution that merely tossing money at a problem is not a solution. The agency must have good direction and oversight to preclude waste and (financial) abuse.

This story has “legs.” Look for the mainstream media to jump on it in light of the prison crowding fiasco which places Idaho under a Federal Court order to reduce the inmate population by 200 by October 28.

10/5/05 Editor note–Based on the following official response from Idaho H&W, it looks like there is a good chance of getting the state to fund a detox program either at a local hospital or in a stand alone facility. Jail may not be the best location.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is responsible for overseeing a comprehensive Substance Abuse Program that coordinates treatment with local agencies so people can receive services they need. This program has evolved over the years, with the state partnering with local public and private agencies to develop the necessary resources to provide services at the community level.

In this program, the state pays for much of the substance abuse treatment services in our state. Most of the state’s substance abuse funds come from federal grants that are specifically targeted to pay for treatment; these funds cannot be used to construct facilities such as detox centers. As part of the comprehensive program, the state oversees and approves detox and treatment facilities, but does not have the resources or authority to build and run them.

Because our funding is limited and targeted, substance abuse treatment services in Idaho are a collaborative effort, with both the state and communities contributing to the solution. The state cannot build and run detox or treatment facilities, but we can pay for services in facilities run by private or public partners. Within this framework, we partner with communities and private organizations, with each providing the resources they can to provide substance abuse treatment.

Substance abuse is a problem in every community in Idaho, with each community facing different needs for substance abuse treatment. With the state providing treatment funding and communities providing the resources they feel are important, we can provide a comprehensive substance abuse program.

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