Helping NJ prison inmates overcome substance abuse addition
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As part of an effort to focus on solving New Jersey’s opioid addiction problem, Mid State Correctional Facility in Wrightstown was closed down in June 2014 so that it could be transformed into the first drug treatment center for prison inmates.
The center will reopen in the next few months.
According to state Department of Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan, the facility will be run by the Gateway Foundation, an organization that focuses on substance abuse treatment, counseling and psychoeducational programming.
He said when prisoners first enter the Department of Corrections, they will get an initial drug addiction assessment done, and for those suffering with a substance abuse disorder, “the inmates will be in one of four levels of treatment, and they’ll be provided services ranging any place from 7 to 28 hours of clinical treatment per week, as well as medicated assisted treatment when necessary.”
Lanigan explained once a treatment program is set up, “the inmate will stay housed at Mid State as long as the clinicians believe it’s appropriate.”
“After that, once it’s been determined the inmate’s treatment has reached an appropriate point, they will continue serving their sentences either at another facility or at one of our halfway houses.”
He added the inmates will continue to be tested and monitored, and if necessary they’ll be returned to Mid State for additional treatment if it’s necessary.
Lanigan pointed out in many cases what’s fueling someone’s criminal behavior is an addiction.
“When the inmate is in our custody, we know we have a recidivism rate of some 32 percent, so if we can root out the addiction, we can stop the crime,” he said.
He noted over the past seven years, “we’ve seen a 22 percent reduction in the prison population and a drop in the crime rate of 20 percent.”
Lanigan believe the trends reflect an increased focus by the Department of Corrections on helping to prepare inmates for re-entry once they’re released from custody.
“We’ve gone from 26,000 inmates to approximately 20,000 inmates over that period of time, and that’s good for everybody,” he said.
Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.