SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s innovative Meth Prison and Reentry Program is moving forward toward its goal of becoming a first-of-its-kind national model for reducing crime and recidivism among meth offenders. Today, the Governor announced that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officially chose a group of partners and community-based providers to help build a new, cutting-edge model for reducing crime among meth-involved offenders. Under the Meth Prison Initiative, hundreds of IDOC inmates at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center will undergo a newly developed, highly intensive drug treatment and community reentry program to combat meth addiction and reduce crime.
“Illinois is a national leader in fighting drug use, crime, and helping addicts turn their lives around. We want to take the lessons we’ve learned and apply them to one of the fastest-growing and most destructive drug scourges plaguing our communities: methamphetamine addiction,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “The Meth Prison and Reentry Initiative at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center will focus on the very specific challenges facing people addicted to meth, so they can return to their families and communities and lead productive crime-and drug-free lives.”
IDOC also will join partners from across the state to celebrate National Meth Awareness Day on November 30th at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center (SWICC) for a planning and strategy session where they will continue developing the initiative and exploring successful new ways of treating meth offenders in the program.
The program at SWICC will be led by CiviGenics, the nation’s largest correctional treatment company, and will be a national model for therapeutic interventions with this ever-growing segment of the inmate population. There are many myths about methamphetamine, one of which is that no effective treatment for meth addicts exists. Another widely-circulated notion is that once the habit is acquired, the prognosis for methamphetamine users is near to hopeless. While this is demonstrably false, it is true that methamphetamine poses some unique treatment challenges which require unique solutions.
The SWICC methamphetamine program relies on established protocols common to other cognitive therapies for stimulant-use disordered adults. But it adapts them to the case histories and symptomatology of persons whose methamphetamine addiction, or “MA,” has led to a spiraling collapse of social function. And it incorporates findings from the latest research on the neurological impairments caused by MA.
To assure that this initiative emerges as a “best practice” model for future programs for the meth-offender population, IDOC and CiviGenics have retained Dr. Richard Rawson of UCLA, and Dr. Kevin Knight of Texas Christian University to lend expert guidance in the processes of clinician training, Quality Assurance, and outcomes measurement.
Dr. Rawson is the primary developer of the Matrix Model and one of the most renowned researchers in the MA field. As a Professor with Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and as Associate Director of UCLA’s prestigious Integrated Substance Abuse Program, Dr. Rawson oversees a portfolio of addiction research ranging from brain imaging studies to clinical trials on pharmacological and psychosocial addiction treatments. Dr. Knight, as a chief Research Scientist with the Institute of Behavioral Research, is recognized as a national leader in the development of metrics for therapeutic “best practice” in correctional settings.
The Governor’s Meth prison initiative includes creating two Meth units, one at SWICC and one at the Sheridan Correctional Center in LaSalle County. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Governor will create a 200-bed Meth Unit at the 667-bed Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center and make the entire prison another fully dedicated drug prison and reentry program in the model of Sheridan. In Fiscal Year 2008, the Governor will expand the Sheridan Correctional Center from 950 offenders to its full capacity of 1,300 offenders, with 200 of those spaces to be used for another Meth Unit. As with the current Sheridan model, inmates in both programs will not only access intensive prison-based drug treatment programs, vocational training, job preparation and mental health services, but their treatment will continue upon completion of their sentence under a highly supervised transition back to their communities. The Southwestern program is being supported through $1.9 million state funding, and $4.78 million federal funding.
“With this initiative, the Governor has charged our department with finding new and more effective ways to reduce repeat crime among meth offenders in the prison system, and we are making tremendous progress in meeting this challenge with the first rate partners we have brought on board in recent weeks,” said IDOC Director Roger Walker. “This program gives IDOC the opportunity to continue our efforts, similar to the Sheridan project, to develop new and innovative ways to address the impact of drugs on crime and recidivism especially regarding the Meth crisis that plagues so many communities in Central and Southern Illinois.”
What distinguishes the programs at Sheridan and SWICC from other programs is that they have an extensive focus on community safety and also includes funding for the most highly supervised and supported reentry program in state history. This program not only includes specially-trained parole agents to monitor participants, but funding for drug treatment, mental health, housing and job placement services all designed to reduce the parolees’ risk to their communities and move them toward crime-free and drug-free citizenship. So far, more than 30 community providers throughout the state will be helping to provide those services.
Today, the IDOC announced that the following providers are now officially on board to build the meth prison and reentry program: Civigenics, Safer Foundation, and TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities).
CiviGenics is partnering with the Illinois Department of Corrections in developing an intensive, offender-specific treatment model that targets methamphetamine abusing offenders at the SWICC. Working with Dr. Richard Rawson, the originator of the only evidence-based model for treatment of methamphetamine abuse, called the “Matrix Model,” CiviGenics is creating a groundbreaking new system to reach meth abusers in the criminal justice population who sustain significant neurological damage as a result of their use. The model integrates research from a variety of disciplines, including neuropsychiatry and educational models.
CiviGenics will work with community partners identified by the IDOC in creating a broad-based statewide initiative that incorporates the “best of the best” research, practice and service delivery.
- CiviGenics was awarded the prison-based drug treatment contract, which includes the development of the national model Meth unit and reentry funding. Additionally, CiviGenics is updating the entire program standards at Sheridan. CiviGenics is the nation’s largest correctional treatment company, providing in-prison substance abuse programs in 16 states. The hallmark of CiviGenics’ programs is innovation, using evidence-based practices supported by partnerships with the nation’s foremost researchers. CiviGenics has provided offender substance abuse treatment services for IDOC since 1996.
“CiviGenics is proud to be selected as Illinois’ partner in pioneering a national model prison program to combat Methamphetamine addiction,” said CiviGenics Chief Executive Officer Roy Ross. “We are excited to be part of the Governor’s multi-pronged initiative to combat Methamphetamine through treatment and public safety legislation. Our innovative Methamphetamine treatment program at the Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center, coupled with Illinois’ new statewide parolee re-entry initiative, represents an extraordinary opportunity to create real progress in reducing recidivism in Illinois.”
- Safer Foundation was awarded the prison- and community-based job preparation and placement contract for offenders at the prison. Safer is also the contractor providing the nationally recognized services at Sheridan Correctional Center, which has resulted in significantly higher job placement rates for that program. Safer has worked for more than 30 years to reduce recidivism by helping people with criminal records obtain employment and social services. In January 2004, Safer was selected as one of three providers of evidenced-based prison reentry services to support drug addicted individuals at the Sheridan Correctional facility. The facility provides training in the employment growth sectors where research has shown an increased demand for laborers both now and into the immediate future. This training includes computer, warehousing, welding, machining, carpentry, culinary and barber skills. In addition, Lakeland Community College (LLC) will be providing a college associate degree program, a horticulture/turf maintenance program, computer programming, construction occupations management, custodial maintenance program, and food safety and sanitation.
“We believe the continuation and expansion of the work started at Sheridan Correctional Center will prove to be as beneficial to the clients of Southwestern as it has been for the residents at Sheridan,” said Safer Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Williams. “We are grateful and honored to have an opportunity to support the Governor in his efforts to fight Meth consumption in Illinois.”
- TASC was awarded the clinical case management contract to oversee the reentry of participants in the program. It also currently manages that portion of the nationally recognized program at Sheridan. TASC is an independent, statewide, nonprofit agency that helps people obtain drug treatment or other services in the community. Since its inception in 1976, TASC has advocated on behalf of clients and improved systems of care. TASC services touch nearly 35,000 clients each year. TASC provides clinical reentry case management services for men entering and leaving the SWICC. Clinical reentry management services bridge the transition from community to prison. Services begin upon entry into the facility and continue as the inmate is released into the community.
“What makes this program exceptional is its attention to what happens to offenders after their release,” said TASC President Melody M. Heaps. “By engaging community participation and resources throughout, Sheridan recognizes that real rehabilitation takes root in the communities to which individuals return. From treatment to housing to employment opportunities to faith-based support, the program provides access to services that the formerly incarcerated need to overcome addictions and restore themselves to full citizenship. Communities, families and individuals alike benefit from the hope that personal responsibility and positive change can bring.”
To help build the capacity of communities to support the safe reentry of parolees from the program, the SWICC Meth Project gives IDOC the opportunity to fund three additional Community Support and Advisory Councils (CSAC) modeled after a successful pilot project established by the original Sheridan program on the south and west sides of Chicago. The CSAC model builds community-based networks of stakeholders in high-impact communities with the largest populations of reentering ex-offenders from prison. IDOC is also finalizing the CSAC contract for Decatur (Macon County) with Jesus Cares Outreach, Inc.