Officials hope to help male inmates combat addiction

A drug-addiction treatment program for indigent male inmates in the Columbus area could open as soon as this fall.

Bartholomew County Community Corrections is seeking $194,600 to fund the substance-abuse treatment program in the Bartholomew County Jail, court services director Brad Barnes said.

Those funds are included in Community Corrections’ $1.84 million request for funding from the Indiana Department of Correction, Barnes told the Bartholomew County commissioners Monday.

The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP) in Bartholomew County, as well as Sheriff Matt Myers and local judges, all had input into the application before it was presented to the county commissioners for their endorsement, Barnes said.

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It was on Aug. 15 of last year that ASAP executive lead Jeff Jones announced that an in-jail drug treatment facility would eventually be proposed, although few details have been released since then — especially regarding funding.

If the Department of Correction grant is awarded, those funds would pay for a couple of additional staff members, as well as for professional services from a substance abuse provider, Barnes told the commissioners.

The treatment program would serve a maximum of 15 men, Barnes said.

He anticipates the county will learn whether it will receive the state funds in April or May.

Due to space limitations, Barnes said his department would have to use risk and needs assessments to identify the most appropriate candidates.

If it’s determined that the program won’t lower the risk of recidivism and relapse in a particular inmate, recommendations will be made to the courts that the inmate remain behind bars as needed, Barnes said.

However, state regulations limit services funded by the Department of Correction only to inmates with felony-level convictions who pose a moderate to high risk of recidivism, he said.

Today, uninsured male offenders who are not sent to prison can only be treated for their addictions on an outpatient basis, which usually keeps them in the same environment that contributed to their drug use, Bartholomew County Senior Judge Stephen Heimann said.

It’s been that way since a Clark County residential program, which served 18 counties, closed in 2012 after funding was eliminated by the Indiana Department of Mental Health, Heimann said.

The new program for males would be similar to Bartholomew County’s seven-year-old Women Recovering with a Purpose program, Barnes said.

Known as WRAP, the 12-month program includes six months where participants are kept from other inmates in the jail complex, followed by six months probation under electronic surveillance, he said.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice selected the WRAP program in Columbus as one of three mentoring sites nationally for other communities to emulate.

Designed to help female inmates transition back into the community with employment, education and support, WRAP has been successful in reducing criminal recidivism and addiction relapse.

“We’re not sure we can do (for men) exactly what we did with the women, and still have the same impact,” Barnes said. “It would be a new program, based on best practices, for substance abuse treatment.”

The grant sought by Community Corrections is for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, he said.

Grant overview

The following grant request was submitted this week to the Indiana Department of Correction by Bartholomew County Community Corrections.

$1,096,469: Base community corrections funding (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019).

$549,100: Pretrial services, professional services, employee benefits, training.

$194,600: Men’s residential program

$1,840,169: Total

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.