Press Release 4/18/2022

Published on March 23, 2022

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Denver Sheriff Department Launches Harm

Reduction Release Bag Program

The Goal is to Save Lives


DENVER – Today, the Denver Sheriff Department launched the Harm Reduction Release Bag program. Individuals being released to the community from the Downtown Detention Center (DDC) and the Denver County Jail (COJL). The bags will include one dose of Narcan, five Fentanyl test strips, inpatient and outpatient Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) resources in the Denver area, and a contact number for Narcan replacement. Training videos will be played in all housing units and intake at both facilities to inform individuals in our custody of the program and how to use both the Narcan and Fentanyl test strips. 

“The implementation of this program is a reflection of the immediate need there is to save lives because of the Fentanyl crisis our nation is experiencing,” said Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins. “Individuals who leave our custody are at risk for overdose, offering them a Harm Reduction Release Bag may save their life or someone they know.”

Across the state of Colorado, the opioid epidemic has become increasingly deadly as the prevalence of Fentanyl rises. The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment estimates that there were approximately 449 drug-related deaths in Denver last year.

“We want to ensure that everyone who would like Narcan, Fentanyl test strips, and MAT resources have them upon release to the community,” said Dr. Nikki Johnson, Chief of Mental Health Services. “Our goal is to save lives, so we can engage individuals in substance misuse treatment while looking towards the future of decreasing recidivism and increasing sobriety.”

Individuals being released from jail and prison are at an extremely high risk of overdose upon release, specifically two weeks upon release, ranging from 40 to 129 times more likely to die from overdose than the general public.

This will be a 90-day pilot program, which will be reviewed after 30 days, to determine sustainability based on need. The Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) is the largest sheriff department in the state of Colorado founded in 1902. DSD operates two jail facilities, the Denver Downtown Detention Center and Denver County Jail. DSD also provides security for the District and County court systems, state inmate transportation, extradition duties, fugitive and K-9 units and manages the detainment of inmates receiving services at Denver Health Medical Center. Recognized by the National Sheriff’s Association with the Triple Crown Award, for achieving simultaneous accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, the American Correctional Association, and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care demonstrates DSD’s commitment to employing best practices. 


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