LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In September, the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC) announced that it placed a free Narcan vending machine in the exit lobby of the jail, accessible to people leaving the facility.

What You Need To Know

  • LMDC said a free Narcan vending machine at the Louisville jail has dispensed nearly 270 units since the project launched

  • The jail announced the project in September

  • Narcan is used to reverse overdoses 

  • The machine is accessible to people leaving the jail 

Narcan is a medication used to reverse overdoses.

Along with the boxes of Narcan, the lobby has information on how to use it and recovery resources.

“It’s been really successful,” said Dr. Mariya Leyderman, chief psychologist for LMDC. “I think folks are really happy that there is something available, especially when you leave jail and you don’t have the things that you need. It just kind of sets you up with another tool and allows you to be successful going back into the community.”

The machine has dispensed nearly 270 units of Narcan since it launched, she said.

“The biggest thing is that we know that people are at the highest risk of overdose when they leave the jail, so it’s incredibly important to set people up with a harm reduction tool, and it also creates another opportunity for linking people to treatment,” said Leyderman.

Earlier this year, an investigation into deaths at LMDC showed five of the 13 people in custody who died between Nov. 2021 and March 2023 were killed by an overdose.

LMDC placed Narcan in all of the dorms more than a year ago and reported there have been no overdose deaths in 14 months.

Kungu Njuguna is a policy strategist with the ACLU of Kentucky and a member of coalition formed in response to deaths at the jail.

“I think the vending machine project obviously is great,” said Njuguna. “Any type of harm reduction, access to Narcan can save a life today. I will say, obviously, that we’re an organization that believes that individuals with substance use disorder shouldn’t be incarcerated in the first place and should be in treatment outside of the incarceration setting.”

The total number of boxes dispensed so far shows Narcan is needed, he said.

He encouraged others to carry it with them.

Leaders said the federally-funded UK HEALing Communities Study purchased the free vending machine and supplied it with the first 300 units of Narcan.

Free Narcan is also available at several sites around Louisville, including at the health department on East Gray Street.