regional jail starts inpatient treatment pilot
W.Va. – For the first time, West Virginia has begun offering
inpatient substance abuse treatment to jail-housed inmates via court referral.
The promising pilot launched at the Western Regional Jail aims to break the
cycle of addiction, save lives, and reduce crime and incarceration costs.
Circuit judges in the counties served by
the jail have started sending eligible offenders to the program. The pilot
provides individual and group therapy daily as well as medication-assisted
treatment in qualifying cases. It has a capacity of 32 beds each for men and women,
in separate sections and away from other jail inmates.
“Our goal is to return people so they can
become contributing and productive members of society,” said Corrections and
Rehabilitation Commissioner Betsy Jividen, who links this effort with her
agency’s emphasis on strong reentry programs that assist with housing and
The pilot is voluntary and open only to non-violent
offenders. The inpatient treatment is in lieu of a regular sentence, and is
expected to take at least six months. If successfully completed, the treatment
term would lead to a reduced sentence, supervised release or some other
alternative to further incarceration.
“We’ve tried to make this a judge-led
program,” said Assistant Commissioner and Inspector General Gary Johnson. “We
leave it up to them as to who comes and what happens when we send (inmates)
back to them after they finish the program.”
Specially trained recovery coaches will
continue to work with these individuals upon release as they rejoin their
communities. These offenders would also be eligible for injections of naltrexone
(Vivitrol), which blocks the effects of opioids. More than 375 exiting inmates
have received these injections since July 2015.
Huntington and Cabell County have made
gains targeting substance use disorders and overdoses. Officials such as Cabell
County Prosecuting Attorney Sean “Corky” Hammers believe the pilot will further
“What I hear from the public a lot is, ‘Why
do these same people get arrested and they keep getting out after they serve
their sentence, and they just keep getting arrested again and again?’” Hammers
said. “We have tools to prevent that, and this is going to be another useful
tool to protect the public and keep offenders from re-offending.”
Successful outcomes will also reduce inmate
crowding and the burden of incarceration on taxpayers. It costs an estimated $75.85
a day to keep an inmate in prison, while the State Budget Office has calculated
the jail per diem as $53.20 Corrections and Rehabilitation hopes to expand the
pilot throughout the statewide network of 10 regional jails.
“When someone completes this program, we
can then quantify the money we can save by cutting off a lot on the tail end of
what their sentence could have been,” said Secretary Jeff Sandy of the Department
of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which includes Corrections and
The pilot also promises to improve safety
in the jails by reducing demand for drugs and therefore the smuggling of
contraband, noted Jack Luikart, DMAPS’ director of Corrections Substance Abuse
Control. He also cited how more than half of the West Virginians who suffer
fatal overdoses had contact with the criminal justice system, such as being in
jail, within a year of their deaths.
“This puts them on a good path to recovery
while it also would help, hopefully, decrease the number of people who die,”
said Luikart. “At the same time, it would cut down on our contraband issue
because we’re treating the addiction.”
West Virginia has long offered inpatient
Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) in its prisons. It also has RSAT
units, one each for men and women, at the Southwestern Regional Jail but for
inmates who have been sentenced to prison and await bed space in one.
officials involved in the pilot and of WRJ and the treatment units: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/x0dao2tb9xwwpng/AAAF5lZJfoiHoII0HSL6nDsAa?dl=0