DOJ grant doubles funding for Ala. prison drug rehab

The $504,892 grant will go toward an existing rehab program in state prisons, in which 288 inmates are currently enrolled

By Melissa Brown
Montgomery Advertiser

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A Department of Justice grant announced this week will more than double Alabama's funding for drug rehabilitation in state prisons.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced the $504,892 grant, which will be administered through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. The funds will go toward an existing rehab program in state prisons, in which 288 inmates are currently enrolled.

“We should strive to ensure that once a person is released from prison they will become a productive member of society,” Ivey said. “This program provides inmates the opportunity to escape their drug habit while in prison and create a new slate when they are released.”

Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton said the grant more than doubles funding the program as received in previous years. More than 300 inmates are expected to be enrolled in the next treatment cycle, Horton said.

"Our main objective is to foster a person’s sobriety and to help them develop a responsible lifestyle once they return back to their community," Horton said in an email.

The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program, or RSAT, is currently implemented at seven prisons in the state: Bullock, Bibb, Donaldson, Easterling, Staton, Ventress and Tutwiler.

There are currently 768 beds in "aftercare" dorms for inmates enrolled in RSAT, Horton said.

"Inmates are screened by ADOC health services staff, and if eligible, are enrolled in the program," Horton said.

RSAT uses a six-month curriculum broken in to three two-month phases. The first phase focuses on education of the addiction and recovery cycles. The second develops anger management and coping skills, while the last phase concentrates on relapse prevention and "aftercare planning."

"Research results indicate that effective drug treatment reduces overall health care costs, homelessness, risky behavior, and recidivism among the treated population," Horton said. "Results also show that treatment success is directly correlated to length of time in treatment. The treatment program serves to extend the length of treatment with a time frame that is relatively close to a person’s release from prison."

RSAT was developed by the Department of Justice in the late 1990s. As of 2016, some 10,000 inmates were served by the program in all but two states in the U.S., according to DoJ reports.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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