Kaiser Health News:

MANTI, Utah — Garrett Clark estimates he has spent about six years in the Sanpete County Jail, a plain concrete building perched on a dusty hill just outside this small, rural town where he grew up.

He blames his addiction. He started using in middle school, and by the time he was an adult he was addicted to meth and heroin. At various points, he’s done time alongside his mom, his dad, his sister, and his younger brother.

“That’s all I’ve known my whole life,” said Clark, 31, in December.

Clark was at the jail to pick up his sister, who had just been released. The siblings think this time will be different. They are both sober. Shantel Clark, 33, finished earning her high school diploma during her four-month stay at the jail. They have a place to live where no one is using drugs.

And they have Cheryl Swapp, the county sheriff’s new community health worker, on their side.

“She saved my life probably, for sure,” Garrett Clark said.

Swapp meets with every person booked into the county jail soon after they arrive and helps them create a plan for the day they get out.

She makes sure everyone has a state ID card, a birth certificate, and a Social Security card so they can qualify for government benefits, apply to jobs, and get to treatment and probation appointments. She helps nearly everyone enroll in Medicaid and apply for housing benefits and food stamps. If they need medication to stay off drugs, she lines that up. If they need a place to stay, she finds them a bed.

Read more: https://kffhealthnews.org/news/article/utah-rural-jails-community-health-workers-prevent-recidivism/