By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- Roughly 80% of the inmates at the Midland County Detention Center are repeat offenders, constantly showing back up behind bars. Out of all those, a growing portion of them are hooked on drugs.
Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter says, "Most people are good people. They get on narcotics and alcohol and then there's a 180 degree difference."
Sheriff Painter is frustrated with this revolving door effect. Locking people up isn't cheap. With more folks moving to West Texas, the problem is only getting worse.
Palmer Drug Abuse Program (PDAP) in Midland says they've seen an increase in the number of narcotics users walking through their doors looking for help. They add that many of those users were also formerly incarcerated, oftentimes more than once.
PDAP Executive Director Brent Blackburn tells us, "I think the criminal justice system and substance-abuse together create a vicious cycle for people."
The Sheriff wants to see a drastic change made to post-jail care. Ideally, lengthy inpatient treatment centers to help these people get sober. However, that option is nowhere on the horizon. Blackburn says,
"The state has really struggled with their budget to be able to fund enough beds for treatment so we're just struggling. All of us are."
There are a couple of inpatient treatment centers in the basin and they do have a few state-funded indigent beds, but PDAP says there still aren't enough. PDAP offers a 12-step outpatient program.
"We are absolutely free. We don't charge anything for our counseling or anything for our support group meetings," adds Director of Recovery Constance Roberts.
However, until the state or community steps in to offer more assistance, the cycle will continue.