nj.com: 'You haven't seen this before.' A new place to attack the opioid crisis


New Jersey's opioid problem has led to a crime problem.

People who are drug addicted often commit crimes and land in prison, and if these individuals don't address their addiction they're likely to commit more crimes and cost society more money, experts say.

Armed with these realities, New Jersey has become one of the first states in the nation to devote an entire prison and millions of dollars to treating inmates with addictions. NJ Advance Media was the first news agency inside to see how it worked.

Unlike most prisons, where just a few inmates get treatment, almost everyone at Mid-State Correctional Facility, a 696-bed facility sequestered on the grounds of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, is treated for a panoply of addictions. This entire institution, in effect, has become a licensed drug-treatment center.

"You haven't seen this in Department of Corrections before," said Christine Alfano, one of those leading this campaign. "They have a different shot. They can go back out and they can live a completely productive life. That is our goal."

The prison is also yet another way to stem the opioid crisis in New Jersey.

The state, on a record pace for drug deaths this year, has had more than 950 deaths so far in 2018, and the number is likely to top 3,000 by the end of the year, according to new state data. 

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