Louisville Metro Government

Jail & Opioid Use

How can a jail create supports to break the cycle of opioid use and incarceration?

Partners and Funders


All across the country, jails are handling a surge of high-need opioid drug users that they are not designed to serve. Working with the innovation team from the Mayor’s Office in Louisville, Kentucky, we explored the intersection of incarceration and opioid use and examined how to best respond to the jail system’s challenges around overcrowding.


By collaborating with Department of Corrections staff, jailed people, and treatment community members, we diagnosed six needs that all users of the jail shared and identified five promising paths for future design work. All of these paths rest on our conclusion that jail can model and support the behaviors that will help people lead more productive lives after release.

Building on our design recommendations, the City subsequently piloted tools to help corrections officers develop skills around more humane and thoughtful interactions with jailed people, began exploring facility redesign to improve jail safety and comfort for people in pain or stress, and formed a partnership with the State to explore how to provide on-the-spot pharmacy services to people denied opioid prescriptions.

Project Team

Camilla Buchanan headshot
Camilla Buchanan
Kate Krontiris headshot
Kate Krontiris
Jennifer Thibault headshot
Jennifer Thibault