In­mates can get in­pa­tient drug aid

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Su­san DeMar Laf­ferty

In a con­tin­u­ing part­ner­ship with the Fam­ily Guid­ance Cen­ter of Joliet, Will County of­fi­cials will launch a pi­lot pro­gram to pro­vide in­pa­tient drug treat­ment pro­grams to in­mates at the county jail.

The pro­gram will start with 15 male in­mates, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Cir­cuit Court Judge Carla Poli­can­dri­otes, who is now a con­sul­tant with Fam­ily Guid­ance, a non­profit be­hav­ioral health care or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The new ini­tia­tive fills a gap in the ser­vices now of­fered to in­mates and those on pro­ba­tion, and comes at no cost to the county, she said.

The county has been work­ing with the guid­ance cen­ter since Jan­uary 2016 on a Med­i­ca­tion As­sisted Treat­ment pro­gram, of­fer­ing in­mates an out­pa­tient pro­gram that in­cludes Viv­it­rol in­jec­tions, which blocks crav­ings for opi­ates.

Un­der Illi­nois law, non­vi­o­lent crim­i­nal de­fen­dants who have sub­stance use dis­or­ders may be el­i­gi­ble for Treat­ment Al­ter­na­tives for Safer Com­mu­ni­ties pro­ba­tion if they agree to and are el­i­gi­ble for out­pa­tient treat­ment in lieu of jail. The crime must be con­nected to their drug or al­co­hol ill­ness, and if they suc­cess­fully com­plete the pro­gram, the felony charge is cleared from their record, she said.

Poli­can­dri­otes said Fam­ily Guid­ance as­sesses in­mates at the re­quest of their at­tor­ney or pub­lic de­fender, but it now takes eight to 10 weeks to do the as­sess­ment, and many in­mates don’t want to wait that long. They are try­ing to cut that to two weeks, she said.

For those in jail, the wait for a bed in an in­pa­tient fa­cil­ity can be lengthy, she said.

Fam­ily Guid­ance is “ready and able” to be­gin in­pa­tient ser­vices in the jail im­me­di­ately, and has the sup­port of Chief Judge Richard Schoen­st­edt and Will County Sher­iff Mike Kel­ley, ac­cord­ing to Poli­can­dri­otes.

Years ago, they talked about treat­ing the peo­ple most in need.

“There are no more ifs. Noth­ing like this ex­ists in the state. You do more in Will County than any place else in the state. It’s phe­nom­e­nal,” Poli­can­dri­otes said.

This ex­panded ser­vice will re­sult in less jail time and lower re­cidi­vism rates, she said.

Ron Vlasaty, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Fam­ily Guid­ance, thanked the county board and all the county de­part­ments that “trusted us enough to work with us.”

“We know that treat­ment works. It’s great to see that a county re­al­ized it could not ar­rest its way out of this prob­lem,” he said.

Fam­ily Guid­ance is at the county jail ev­ery Sat­ur­day to as­sess and ed­u­cate in­mates.

Ac­cord­ing to Poli­can- dri­otes, 533 peo­ple in the county’s court sys­tem are cur­rently in treat­ment pro­grams, and a to­tal of 3,076 have been served by Fam­ily Guid­ance “in their strug­gle to get clean and sober.”

Poli­can­dri­otes said they have and will con­tinue to work with Julie McCabeSterr, the co­or­di­na­tor of the Will County State’s At­tor­ney’s Prob­lem Solv­ing Courts, which in­cludes a court for drug of­fend­ers, veter­ans and those with men­tal health is­sues.

The county is mark­ing the 20th an­niver­sary of that pro­gram.

On Thurs­day, McCabeSterr sought ap­proval from the Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee to ex­pand hous­ing for those in re­cov­ery by pur­chas­ing an apart­ment build­ing.

The county now owns two group homes, but needs more space, where clients can be su­per­vised by county staff, she said.

“We have more con­trol over our clients andwe are good neigh­bors,” she said.

The apart­ment build­ing would house 12 to 14 peo­ple, and she would hire a full-time man­ager. Clients pay rent, and the costs of the hous­ing has been sus­tain­able, she said.

The pur­chase would have to be ap­proved by the county board.

The Prob­lem Solv­ing Courts now serve 250 peo­ple, McCabe- Sterr said.

Fi­nally, Will County sher­iff’s de­part­ment so­cial worker Bon­nie Phillips said with a $1.25 mil­lion fed­eral grant, the de­part­ment com­mu­nity coali­tion will hire a full-time co­or­di­na­tor and be­gin drug preven­tion ef­forts aimed at youth.

To qual­ify for the grant, the sher­iff’s of­fice cre­ated the non­profit coali­tion in 2016, and will now bring to­gether gov­ern­ments, busi­nesses, churches, schools and com­mu­nity mem­bers in a five-year coun­ty­wide ef­fort to re­duce youth sub­stance abuse.

“We are at­tack­ing this prob­lem from all an­gles,” Kel­ley said.

With this grant, the sher­iff’s of­fice can be el­i­gi­ble for ad­di­tional grants, of­fi­cials said.

Out of 731 grants that were awarded na­tion­wide, the sher­iff’s de­part­ment was the only law en­force­ment agency to re­ceive one, Phillips said.

“We know that treat­ment works. It’s great to see that a county re­al­ized it could not ar­rest its way out of this prob­lem.” —Ron Vlasaty, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Fam­ily Guid­ance

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