Magazine article Corrections Forum

Idaho: Ada County Jail Substance Abuse Program

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Idaho: Ada County Jail Substance Abuse Program

Article excerpt

Statement of the Problem

Crime in Idaho is connected to drug use and abuse. The most recent statistics indicate that 46 percent of arrests in Ada County are directly connected to drug or alcohol use. Of all arrests involving drugs, 90 percent are for methamphetamine (speed). In the Pacific Northwest, use of methamphetamine is on the rise. Within the past 2 years, use of the drug has risen 400 percent in the region.

Generally, inmates with a drug or alcohol problem are treated in State prisons, not in local or county jails. State prisons incarcerate inmates for longer periods than do local jails, and they are typically better funded. Most prison inmates have a record of several arrests and periods of incarceration prior to serving State prison time, and most have served at least one stint as a county jail inmate before becoming a State prison inmate. To stop the drug/crime cycle before drug-abusing offenders reach this point in the criminal justice system, training and education must be offered to them earlier in the process.

Goals and Objectives

If drug abuse among young firstor second-time offenders can be reduced, the incidence of crime will decrease. Waiting until offenders are incarcerated in the State prison system makes achieving this outcome extremely difficult. The mission of the Ada County Jail Substance Abuse Program is to reduce the use of drugs and alcohol by offenders who are sentenced to incarceration at the local level. Incarceration is an excellent time to provide education and group treatment to offenders. The program provides short term treatment and, upon release, refers the offender to a community agency for follow-up treatment.

Program Components

The 4-week coed program employs 1 full-time instructor to teach approximately 16 inmates, who are in class 30 hours each week. Male and female inmates are housed separately. Participants are encouraged to study together and discuss their assignments with inmates from previous sessions. The program's administrative assistant screens applicants and assigns in mates to upcoming sessions. A psychologist, who serves as the program's administrative head, coordinates program activities and designs the statistical evaluation. The program's first-year budget was funded entirely through a Federal grant. For the second year, one-third of the budget was funded by inmates. Over the next 2 years, inmates assumed 100 percent of program costs. Inmates participate in the program either voluntarily or by court order. In mates must be compliant, be sentenced to time in the county jail, be able to live in a dormitory setting, and have ties to the local community so that upon release they can be tracked and placed in aftercare. Inmates must have no pending charges and no convictions for violent felonies. Offenders are removed from the program if they proposition or are rude to one an other.

Contract Component

Upon admission to the program, inmates sign contracts in which they agree to comply with all jail rules and staff instructions, attend the pro gram voluntarily, attend at least 1 year of followup outpatient alcohol and drug treatment after release from jail, stay in contact with the program's staff for 1 year following release from jail, involve their families in follow up treatment and provide them with follow-up information, and live in the community after release. After a contract is signed, the inmate's substance abuse is evaluated and a treatment plan is created. …

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