SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Inmates arrested for drug-related crimes are leaving the Seminole County jail free of their addiction and going directly to a long-term rehabilitation facility.
They are getting intensive day-long counseling and, if they need it, medication to get over the addiction. The recovering addicts live together in a large open room inside the jail with murals painted on the walls and without bars.
It's known as "O-pod," an area specifically designated for inmates addicted to or involved with opioids.
Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said no one else in Florida is doing anything like it.
"It's being smart about this. We know that relapse is a part of addiction," Lemma said. "And I think as sheriff, people have an expectation that I will try and fix what's broken with people on the inside."
More and more Seminole County judges are ordering inmates struggling with opioids into O-pod.
Inmates meet with counselors all day for their groups, which are meetings in which they discuss everything from parenting to finances to drug use.
They are encouraged to participate in yoga in the recreation room and are allowed to use their creative talents to paint murals on the walls.