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Opioid Use Disorder Screening and Treatment in Local Jails, 2019

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2023, 10:00 A.M. ET                  Contact: OJP MEDIA
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63% of Local Jail Jurisdictions Screened for Opioid Use Disorder at Intake; 19% Initiated Medication-assisted Treatment for OUD in 2019

WASHINGTON ― The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is announcing the release of Opioid Use Disorder Screening and Treatment in Local Jails, 2019. The study shows that at midyear 2019, more than 6 in 10 (63%) local jail jurisdictions reported that they conducted opioid use disorder (OUD) screenings of persons at intake. Fewer than 2 in 10 (19%) jurisdictions said that they initiated medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for those identified as having OUD.  

After intake, nearly a quarter (24%) of jail jurisdictions continued MAT for OUD for persons admitted with a current prescription or for those who were getting services from a methadone clinic prior to admission. More than half (54%) of jail jurisdictions provided confined persons medications—such as clonidine, lofexidine, methadone or buprenorphine (e.g., Suboxone)—to treat opioid withdrawal. Upon the release of individuals from jail facilities, about 28% of local jail jurisdictions linked persons with OUD to MAT in the community. A quarter (25%) of jail jurisdictions provided overdose reversal medications to persons with OUD upon release.

In a statement, BJS Director Dr. Alexis Piquero said, “These important data show that many jail jurisdictions are screening for opioid use disorder but fewer are providing treatment while in facilities or linking to such treatment upon release.”  

Of the estimated 894,030 persons admitted to local jails between June 1 and June 30, 2019, almost two-thirds (64%) were screened for OUD. Screening at admission to jail varied by region and state. About 80% of admissions to local jails in the Northeast, 68% in the West, 62% in the South and 61% in the Midwest were screened for OUD.  

Two states screened nearly all persons admitted to jails for OUD: New Jersey (99%) and West Virginia (97%). The District of Columbia conducted OUD screenings on all persons admitted to jail. Overall, jail jurisdictions in urban areas were more likely to screen admissions to jail for OUD (69% of those admitted) than those in rural areas (53%).

The study also includes findings on the rate of positive OUD screenings and the rate of opioid overdose deaths by state. Of the OUD screenings conducted at intake in June 2019, about 15% were positive. Among states, the positivity rate varied by the rate of opioid overdose deaths in the state. About 22% of OUD screenings were positive in states with 24.0 or more opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 U.S. residents ages 15-74 in 2019. About 6% of screenings were positive in states with fewer than 10.0 OUD overdose deaths per 100,000.  

“The opioid crisis is real. Screening and treatment for people in jail suffering from opioid use disorder is critically important both for those afflicted and those around them,” added Director Piquero.  

Of persons admitted to local jails during June 2019, an estimated 5% were treated for opioid withdrawal. Four times as many admissions were treated in jails in the Northeast (16%) than those in the Midwest, South and West (4% in each).  

At midyear 2019, about 1% of the 734,470 persons confined in local jails were receiving MAT for OUD. About 3% of those confined in jails located in the Northeast were receiving treatment, while the percentage was lower for other regions.  

Jail jurisdictions in the Northeast were also more likely to link persons with OUD to MAT in the community than those in other regions. Seventy-one percent in the Northeast provided such links, almost twice as many as in the West (37%), about two and a half times as many as in the Midwest (28%) and almost four times as many as in the South (19%).  

Opioid Use Disorder Screening and Treatmest in Local Jails, 2019, written by BJS Statisticians Laura M. Maruschak, Todd D. Minton, and Zhen Zeng, PhD; related documents; and additional information about BJS’s statistical publications and programs are available on the BJS website at bjs.ojp.gov.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, is the principal federal agency responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating reliable statistics on crime and criminal justice in the United States. Alexis R. Piquero, PhD, is the director. More information about BJS and criminal justice statistics can be found at bjs.ojp.gov.

About the Office of Justice Programs

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law.

More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

Date Published: April 12, 2023