W.Va. opens first in-jail drug treatment at SWRJ

Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Intent on breaking the cycle of drug addiction and crime, West Virginia is launching its first inpatient treatment program in a regional jail.

The 28-bed Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) unit opened Monday, April 11, at the Southwestern Regional Jail in Logan County, for male inmates who have been sentenced to the custody of the Division of Corrections.

Overseeing the state’s prison system, the DOC already operates RSAT units at nine of its facilities totaling 507 beds. The new unit at Southwestern recognizes that there are inmates who have been sentenced to DOC custody but who are serving parts of those sentences in the separately run regional jail system.

“This will greatly accelerate their ability to begin the crucial journey of recovery and rehabilitation that can, it is hoped, restore them to a productive and healthy life outside the correctional setting,” said Executive Director David Farmer of the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority (RJA). “Being able to begin treatment earlier will also allow them to hasten their eligibility for parole, thus addressing both the needs of inmates and their families and the issue of overcrowding.”

The Division of Corrections will staff and administer the Southwestern RSAT as part of a collaborative effort with Farmer’s agency.

“This 28-bed treatment unit will provide a badly needed tool to assist inmates with substance abuse addictions prepare for their eventual return to society, and hopefully serve as a blueprint for additional jail-based units in the near future,” said Commissioner of Corrections Jim Rubenstein. “Executive Director Farmer and his staff have worked closely with Division of Corrections staff to make this unit a reality. These offenders are being provided with the opportunity to make a positive change in their lives, the lives of their families and loved ones and their communities.”

Each RSAT unit offers intensive, six- to 12-month inpatient treatment to offenders with a verified substance abuse history. These residential units draw from the Therapeutic Community model, a structured, group-based approach that stresses individual participation and social interaction.

Both Farmer and Rubenstein attributed their agencies’ joint effort to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s continuing focus on West Virginia’s abuse issues and his emphasis on pursuing operational efficiencies. The jail-based RSAT unit also supports the unfolding Justice Reinvestment Initiative, the landmark, smart-on-crime reforms championed by Gov. Tomblin that allow offenders to resume lawful and productive lives.

Both the Division of Corrections and the Regional Jail Authority are part of the W.Va. Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. Department Secretary Joe Thornton applauded DOC and RJA for their continuing collaborative efforts.

“This department continues to invest significantly in better outcomes for the state’s offender population,” Thornton said. “Through a commitment by Gov. Tomblin, we are already establishing community-based treatment opportunities around the state. Certainly, by increasing access to treatment services while offenders are in our care and custody can only enhance our efforts in breaking the addiction cycle.”

Staff Report

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