Thursday presentation intrigues, offers promise

While it might not be warranting numerous headlines, a presentation Thursday offers some promise for a better tomorrow for some trapped in the criminal justice system.

Representatives from the North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division will be speaking at a public meeting Thursday on Free Through Recovery, a new state-funded program.

The program allows individuals within the criminal justice system to access care coordination, recovery support, behavioral health assessment and treatment services.

Even law enforcement officials have asserted in recent years that the prison system is not set up to deal with recovery support and behavioral health treatment. Our state, like virtually every other state, has failed dismally to find a way to treat behavioral challenges and addiction, placing undo burden on courts and law enforcement to manage that which they are not equipped to manage. The result is recidivism, lives ruined, families destroyed – and, oh yes, a big price tag for taxpayers who get virtually nothing in exchange for their involuntary investment in an insufficient system.

Certain people – particularly young and vulnerable people – who run afoul of the criminal justice system do not benefit from simple punishment. In no way does that address underlying problems of drug abuse and behavioral issues. To keep people like this from suffering throughout their lives and costing society a fortune to warehouse them is going to take an entirely different approach; it will take public sentiment; and it will take a herculean effort on the part of society.

At least in our part of the country, people seem to care enough to consider other possible solutions.

Potential providers are encouraged to attend. The meeting will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Ward County Office Building, Room 108.

Let’s keep this discussion going until our collective wisdom finds a solution.