Umatilla County aims to close the gap jail inmates face from when they get out to when they get into treatment for mental health and alcohol or drug addictions.

Dale Primmer, director of Umatilla County Community Justice, said while the jail provides treatment, the program has lacked the crucial component that helps inmates continue treatment outside the cell. The board of county commissioners Wednesday morning took action to remedy that with a 3-0 approval of a $125,556 contract for Community Counseling Solutions to provide a full-time employee to handle mental health and drug/alcohol assessments, care coordination and referrals at the jail.

“So in theory, the person will go from one facility, the jail, right into a service provider that is orientated and ready to receive them,” Primmer said. “That’s the goal.”

The funding comes from the Oregon Justice Reinvestment Grant Program, which provides money to help keep offenders out of state prisons. Primmer said with the board vote, Community Counseling Solutions can recruit and hire the person with the right credentials to conduct both mental health and drug and alcohol assessments, get the hire on board and roll out a program.

“I think April 1 is when we targeted to hit the go button,” Primmer said.

That also is when he said a version of drug court could re-open.

Community Justice operated drug court until state funding declined last year. Since then, Primmer said, his department has been working with the circuit courts of the 6th Judicial District and other stakeholders to resurrect drug court. He said the idea is to launch a more traditional model that is post-conviction but pre-sentencing, so offenders can work through treatment programs to receive less severe sentences or even have the court dismiss charges.

Roy Blaine is the trial court coordinator for the local circuit courts. He said Jillian Viles started Feb. 1 as the new treatment court coordinator, and she is helping write the policies and procedures for the program, which is under the auspices of the local public safety coordinating council.

The treatment court also might use a pro-tem judge rather than one of the five full-time circuit court judges on the 6th District. Blaine said he advertised for attorneys to serve as the treatment court judge one day a week. Six people applied, he said, and he has to assess if they meet the requirements.

If none do, Blaine said, he was sure one of the circuit court judges would step in.

Primmer also is using Justice Reinvestment funds to seek a treatment provider for the people in treatment court. Having a sole provider cuts down on a lot of oversight, he said. The request for bids should go out in the next day or so.

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