13WHAM Special report follow-up: "Jailhouse Conversation" inmate released
Geneseo, Livingston County --- A second inmate who spoke to 13WHAM News about their struggles with opioid addiction walked out of the Livingston County Jail on Thursday morning.
Hours after sharing her story Wednesday night in a 13WHAM News Special Report, Opioid Epidemic: A Jailhouse Conversation, Kimberly Levasseur is beginning her quest to stay clean and beat her addiction. She joins Sean Fleming, who was released last week and at last check told 13WHAM News he’s remained clean for seven days. Arthur “AJ” Johnson and Michayla Welytok remain in jail and are completing their sentences.
"Now their story is out there, now they're sort of under a microscope and people are going to be looking to them for success and I hope (with) that bit of pressure and motivation… they will continue to lead by example as they did by being willing to share their stories,” lawyer Kevin Van Allen said.
Van Allen is a criminal defense lawyer who represents Levasseur, Fleming, and Welytok. He tells 13WHAM News that the current opioid epidemic is unlike anything he’s experienced in his career. "I can't count on one hand the number of clients in the last 18 months that have passed away, that have overdosed. It's terrifying.”
As just one of many lawyers navigating the criminal justice system for these addicts, he says he’s encouraged that the system is slowly recognizing the need for counseling, rehab, and treatment in addition to, or in place of, incarceration. He hopes more courts will understand that criminals feeding their addictions need that extra support.
"I think where the criminal justice system needs to go to a step further is to implement those types of programs that do, in fact, reward treatment. A lot of people that are affected by addiction do have mental illness,” Van Allen said.
When asked if he believes there needs to be more resources committed to mental health treatment and counseling Van Allen said, “Yeah, no question about it.”
13WHAM News continues to hear from local schools and organizations who plan to continue this conversation in their communities.
If you missed this special report or wish to watch it again and share it, you can do so here.