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U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance sends county $1.2 million for counseling services, peer mentor programs, housing.

FILE PHOTO - Inmates at a local jail are shown here. Federal dollars will help prisoners recover from opioid addiction, Multnomah County leaders announced.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded the county $1.2 million over three years — with the funds earmarked for corrections counselors and peer mentors working at the two jails in Portland.

As part of a pilot program, officials already screen for pain pill abuse during booking in order to refer prisoners to counseling services and advice from their peers.

This money — granted via the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act signed into law in 2016 — is intended to bolster the pilot and allow further cooperation between the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, Department of Community Justice and the Health Department. Funding also will be used for recovery housing and transportation to treatment.

"By increasing access to treatment, we're hoping to interrupt the cycle that returns people with substance use disorder to jail over and over again, curbing not only incarceration, but recidivism," Sheriff Mike Reese said. The information was released Monday, Oct. 21.

County Chair Deborah Kafoury praised the efforts by Reese, District Attorney Rod Underhill and area judges. "This critical grant will provide people living with an addiction the chance to engage with peers and get resources they need to get their lives on track," she said.

The funding will be implemented July 1, 2020.

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