Inmates with substance abuse issues in all Ohio correctional facilities have access to treatment through a substance abuse program. London Correctional Institution (LoCI), however, has rolled out a new program to also treat addicts just coming into the prison system.
The Treatment Transfer Program (TTP) was implemented at LoCI on Feb. 14 after being an active program in the state for nearly two years. According to a release from the state’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), the purpose of the program is to “provide substance use disorder assessment and treatment through community treatment providers to help reduce substance abuse relapses and recidivism.”
The program was brought to LoCI by director Gary Mohr and his efforts, along with the efforts of the administration, is what Warden Norman Robinson said will make TTP successful.
“It is really about the staff. The collaboration of staff is really what makes this go,” Robinson said. “The first step of any successful program is that everyone buys into it. It makes everyone so well informed.”
TTP at LoCI
Through this program, low-level, nonviolent drug offenders entering LoCI will be allowed to finish their sentences in halfway houses.
“We have it at a couple of institutions, but with DRC, we’re the only ones doing this,” said Lamont Sapp, the Regional Recovery Services Administrator for the southwest region of DRC. “Typically any release from prison earlier than the stated out-date would involve a judge’s approval. This is something that was created in the legislature that does not involve the judge’s approval. It involves meeting a certain criteria.”
When offenders go before DRC’s reception to determine their classification and placement, if they are nonviolent, drug-related offenders, they can be sent into TTP. The goal of the program is to expose offenders to high-intensive treatment the moment they enter the system.
“People come with various sentences — one guy might only have 13 months left on his sentence, another guy might only have 22 months left on his sentence,” Sapp said. “But we transition them out into the halfway houses at the 12-month mark.”
Typically offenders who are sent to the program have shorter sentences on average. Treatment also continues into the halfway house and beyond.
TTP and the Renaissance Program
LoCI has an existing treatment program available to inmates at the facility called the Renaissance Program.
“It is our intensive, outpatient program that’s housed inside one unit,” said Willie White, Recovery Services Supervisor at LoCI. “The Treatment Transfer Program is housed in the same unit.” The Renaissance Program is a longer, seven-month process which sees inmates through a three-part recovery process which, once completed, offers continued care to participants.
“Individuals who are involved with continued care who are housed in the same dorm, then operate as mentors for the guys that are coming into the program,” White said. “When they come into the dorm, they are assigned directly to another individual who lives in the dorm for at least a seven-month period and then that individual will walk them through the integration process.”
Mentors in recovery
A number of inmates who have made it through the Renaissance Program participate in TTP. They can help to connect with incoming offenders in a more direct and personal way. Since their involvement in Renaissance is voluntary, participants include addicts who have gone through some treatment and not succeeded but are voluntarily participating in recovery programs in the prison system which have helped to get them clean.
“The environment is conducive to change,” White said. “I got a couple of people who have lived in that dorm for five years and have stayed clean for that amount of time. They have been involved in pro-social activities and have given of themselves at this level of schedule. It’s a big commitment.”
Inmates at LoCI said that their involvement in TTP allows them to offer guidance and proof that recovery is possible while simultaneously being reminded of the dangers of relapsing.
“I get to really see the addiction when it’s fresh,” said Bryce Maggard, an inmate at LoCI. “Today, that’s helping to keep me sober. They say in the Narcotics Anonymous program, there’s a therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel. What we can’t do by ourselves, we can do together. This is a ‘we’ program.”
The inmates also said that treatment not only handles the symptoms but helps get at the underlying issues that cause behavior.
“I hadn’t always been honest with myself. In the system, I hadn’t changed my belief system until I changed my thinking, which then did change my behavior. I’ve learned that now,” said inmate Terrance Coleman. “Today, I sponsor nine other guys and have two TTP new little brothers that I mentor. This system really works.”
Both inmates and staff at LoCI said the program allows them to better handle one-on-one, personal obstacles.
“Through this process, the counselors come to your level. They talk to you like a human being. And that helps me today. You have guys coming in, like these TTP guys, and they have this thing about them that they don’t care,” said inmate Tyrone Mason. “So it’s my responsibility as a graduate of the program to teach them better and to share my experience with them.”
TTP can also help get to the heart of the issue very quickly.
“By going into group sessions, I was able to discover why I do the things I do,” said inmate Kirk Jennings. “As an addict, when I see negative behaviors, my mind clings to that because once I was that person. But now this is how I’m able to give back. I’m able to talk to that person today. I can say ‘listen, I was this guy and you might want to change this behavior.’ That’s where the longevity comes in.”
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.
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