West Virginia Launches First Inpatient Treatment Program in Jail

By Paul Gaita 04/15/16

The West Virginia inpatient treatment program could reduce the possibility of recidivism and prison overcrowding. 

West Virginia Launches First Inpatient Treatment Program in Jail
photo via Shutterstock

West Virginia has opened the state’s first inpatient treatment program for regional jail inmates who are seeking help with addiction issues. The Southwestern Regional Jail in Logan County launched a 28-bed Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) unit on Monday, offering intensive inpatient treatment for male inmates with verified substance abuse history who have been sentenced to the Division of Corrections (DOC), which oversees West Virginia’s state prisons. Overcrowding issues in state facilities have forced the DOC to send many of its inmates to regional jails, where no such treatment programs were in place until the Logan County unit was opened.

“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. “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.”

David Farmer, executive director of the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority, which collaborated with the DOC in creating the RSAT unit, said the program also addresses the problem of overcrowding in the state’s prison system. "Being able to begin treatment earlier will also allow them to hasten their eligibility for parole," he said, "thus addressing both the needs of inmates and their families and the issue of overcrowding."

The RSAT Program was launched in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The program funds both state and local governments to develop such treatment programs in both correctional facilities and community-based aftercare services for paroled inmates and probationers. RSAT grants have been awarded in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands). A number of studies conducted over the last decade have shown that prisoners who complete an RSAT program in their correctional facility were less likely to be arrested for a serious felony within two years of leaving the program than those who did not participate or dropped out of the program.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.