Pilot program in Berks County aims to reduce overdoses

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Jan 29, 2018 4:58 AM

Photo Courtesy Commonwealth Media Services

(Harrisburg) -- As part of Governor Tom Wolf's opioid disaster declaration, a community corrections center in Berks County has launched a pilot program to reduce on-site overdoses.

The pilot program at the Wernersville facility includes the addition of a body scanner, like the ones used in airports.

It can detect drugs and weapons on people coming into the center for supervision or treatment.

"These are individuals that are on supervision, that are free to come and go with a schedule as far they have appointments in the community, they work, they go see family, they have family visits. So they're coming in and outside the facility," said Daniel McIntyre, director of Community Corrections for the state Department of Corrections. 

McIntyre says he believes the scanner will be a deterrent to anyone who tries to sneak things into the facility.

"We want to see the reduction in overdoses that have occurred at the center. We want to see a reduction of the amount of contraband that is coming into the center, the amount of ambulance responses to have to come there for incidents," McIntyre said. 

The Wernersville facility had 12 overdoses last year, including one fatality. There were 21 overdoses at the center in 2016. 

The pilot program is set to last three months. The Corrections Department will then decide whether to purchase the scanner.

If the program is successful in reducing overdoses and violent incidents, scanners could be placed in community corrections centers across the state.

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