KENNEWICK, WA - The opioid epidemic has plagued our nation; it's responsible for countless of deaths over the last 20 years.
When it comes to our community, Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher wants to help fight this. Sheriff Hatcher wants to turn an underutilized area of the Benton County Jail into a detox center in an effort to help addicts get clean.
Hatcher says over the years, detox facilities have come and gone, none of them actually sticking around for very long... but the jail has always been the largest detox facility in the area by default.
The hope is that turning part of the jail into an official center will allow officers to take the addicts who commit low-level offenses there and give them the opportunity to get the help they need.
Christine Stacy, who has been an addict for over 20 years and was in and out of jail numerous times, says having a resource like this would've helped her get sober much sooner.
"It really gives an addict a chance to recover, because a lot of the time when we go into jail it's a relief for us because then you have that time to get clean," says Stacy.
Hatcher says our area is ahead of most communities in the state when it comes to having programs within the jail, such as the medication-assisted treatment currently available, but we're also behind by not having a detox center.
Right now, the jail is working with the health department to get what they need to get the detox center up and running.
Hatcher says his goal is to have the facility ready by the end of the year.