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More drug users getting treatment instead of jail in Tucson

Posted at 8:47 AM, Jul 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-21 11:47:54-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A Tucson-area program that prioritizes drug treatment over jail time is credited with keeping people out of jail and saving taxpayers some money.

The Arizona Daily Star reports more than 500 people struggling with opioid addiction were sent to a grant-funded Pima County "deflection" program in the past year.

Based on current jail booking costs, taxpayers saved $178,000 in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The effort began a year ago as a six-month pilot program in two divisions of the Tucson Police Department.

Officers could recommend a suspect caught with 2 grams of opioids or less for treatment instead of arrest.

Authorities say the program proved successful with nearly 120 people getting "deflected."

The county has since received $1.4 million in federal funds to expand the program.