Summit County has launched a program at the jail to help inmates with mental illness and opiate addiction transition back into the community.

The county is using a new $146,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services toward the effort.

Under the program, a case manager is working on re-entry plans, scheduling appointments with service agencies and ensuring that inmates, when released, receive appropriate medication to bridge the gap until they can get treatment.

The goal is to make the transition easier for inmates and prevent them from coming back to the facility, jail administrator Greg Macko said.

“A lot of them were getting lost in the system,” he said.

The National Institute of Corrections estimates that 17 percent of jail inmates have a serious mental illness and 68 percent have a substance abuse problem.

Jerry Craig, executive director of the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (ADM), said those inmates need hand-holding to get them to treatment.

Inmates with opiate addictions receive medication that prevents them from going through withdrawal and won’t allow them to get high.

Meanwhile, those with mental illness receive long-lasting psychotropic drugs, Craig said.

The program is a partnership of the ADM board, sheriff’s office, Summit Psycho­logical Associates, Oriana House, Portage Path Behavioral Health and Community Support Services.

The county ADM Board also is putting about $73,000 toward the program.

The state Community Innovations grant is one of 12 being distributed to better link nonviolent offenders with local behavioral services. In all, the state is handing out $1.5 million, and is expected to give out another $1.5 million in state fiscal year 2015.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Drug Addiction Services announced the grants last week during a special event at the University of Findlay.

Wayne and Holmes counties are jointly receiving $141,800 to screen inmates for mental health issues.

Other recipients are: Hamilton, Hancock, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Mahoning and Preble counties; and joint efforts in Butler, Clinton, Highland, Pike, Preble and Warren; Tuscarawas and Carroll; and Seneca, Sandusky, Wyandot, Erie, Ottawa and Huron.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.