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The nation’s correctional facilities are uniquely vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. Since the pandemic was declared a public health emergency in February 2020, prison populations have been decimated across the country as COVID-19 finds few barriers behind bars.
In response to the spread of COVID-19 among justice-involved populations suffering from addictions, the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN) created the JCOIN Rapid Innovation Grant program (J-RIG), a rapid funding mechanism to support research grants to study newly emerging policies, practices, and interventions that address prevention and treatment of addiction in justice settings.
Three projects recently have been approved for J-RIG funding:
- Reducing Stigma among Individuals with Addiction and Staff in the Criminal Justice System: A Pilot Feasibility Trial. This project addresses the serious negative consequences of stigma in the criminal justice system by combining cutting-edge research in stigma intervention with implementation science to address stigma associated with addiction, medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), and criminal involvement in the CJ system. PI: Kelly E Moore, assistant professor, clinical psychology, East Tennessee State University.
- Improving low-threshold naloxone-on-release from incarceration. The primary purpose of this study is to determine whether providing high-volume, low-threshold, naloxone-on-release is effective at placing naloxone in the hands of jail releasees most likely to experience or witness an overdose. Two secondary aims are to determine facilitators and barriers to releasees obtaining additional doses of naloxone after release in the community and to explore how releasees take naloxone and associated training back to the community. PI: Peter J Davidson, associate professor, University of California-San Diego.
- Decreasing Relapse and Recidivism: The Evaluation of a Novel Continuity of Care Model for Offenders with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). This project has two aims: to assess the effectiveness of a new SUD treatment program for short-term detainees in promoting detainee recovering and its impact on recidivism. The evaluation will improve our understanding of best practices for assisting detainees with SUD in re-entering their home communities successfully. PI: Valerie G Hardcastle, executive director, Institute for Health Innovation, Northern Kentucky University.
The first two J-RIG-funded projects began their work in 2020:
- A Statewide Evaluation of the Implementation of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Vermont Correctional Facilities and the Impact of COVID-19.
PI: Elias Klemperer, assistant professor, Vermont Center on Behavior and Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine.
- Teleservices in Judicially Led Diversion Programs: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Adoption of Remote Treatment and Recovery Services.
PI: Tara Kunkel, executive director, Rulo Strategies LLC.
“We’re excited about the continued quality of the proposals submitted for J-RIG funding and look forward to the findings from all five projects,” said University Professor Faye Taxman, who leads the JCOIN efforts.
Each of these projects has been funded for two years.
JCOIN and J-RIG are funded by the NIH HEAL Initiative and are administered by the Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence (ACE!) at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. The multi-university collaborative is led by University Professor Faye Taxman.