County officials are now saying that the concerning methamphetamine addiction is indeed driving up Kansas’ intense crime rates. These crime rates are also filling jails with individuals who would be better served in treatment centers, according to state and Wichita area leaders, reports the Idaho Statesman. Kansas and Sedgwick County officials met with community members at a Wichita Crime Commission event this past Thursday in an effort to further discuss exactly how to solve the state’s ever growing meth and opioid problem, the Idaho Statesman reported.
In what may be shocking statistics to some, officials have documented that seven out of 10 inmates at the county jails are struggling with drug addiction. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said that many of these inmates who are suffering are likely in need of drug treatment or mental health services.
“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem.”
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett has also come forward, controversially stating that meth addiction has led many inmates to commit the crime that they were arrested for in the first place. Bennett also stated to reporters that meth is driving up violent crime rates as well. In fact, it is reported that about 11 percent of each and every charged felony case handled by the district attorney’s office has a minimum of one count of meth possession, which Bennett believes to be evidence to support the claim that meth is contributing to crime rates.
“People aren’t breaking into businesses, houses and cars for the thrill of it. They’re doing it to feed an addiction. That’s just the people who had meth in their pocket when they were arrested.”
Easter also told reporters that an oversight board and a strategic plan could help slow the growth of this worrisome meth addiction, adding that the sheriff’s office is hiring a drug addiction specialist. Hiring this specialist comes with hope that doing so will help the county focus on drug treatment and mental health.
“We are committed to solving this right now so we don’t have to deal with it again in 10 years.”
The American Addiction Centers has cited a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, that 6 percent of the American population ages 12 and older have tried methamphetamine, or meth, as of 2015. In 2014, the National Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) showed that approximately 53 people per every 100,000 in America were receiving care at a specialized addition treatment facility for various issues which involved meth.