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County jail to offer rehab programs for addicted inmates

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

September 07. 2017 11:40PM
At the Strafford County House of Corrections, officials say 85 percent of their inmate population struggles with addiction issues. They hope three new programs make a difference before inmates are released. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

DOVER — Three new programs for inmates who suffer from addiction issues have started at Strafford County House of Corrections in Dover.

Carrie Lover Conway, who works as the Strafford County criminal justice programming coordinator, said officials at the jail have been planning the voluntary programs for three to four months. The hope is inmates will choose to seek treatment for addiction issues instead of developing friendships with inmates who are negative influences.

Conway says 85 percent of the jail’s population struggles with addiction issues. The county jail holds local and federal inmates, as well as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees.

On June 6, emergency rescue workers were called to the jail to treat five inmates who were affected by drugs. Three of them had to be transported to the hospital.

During a news conference held three weeks into the investigation, Sheriff David Dubois said it did not appear the inmates took an opioid-based drug. Dubois said Thursday they are still working on that case.

On March 22, Strafford County House of Corrections Officer Bryant Shipman was arrested with fentanyl and cocaine in his possession, authorities have said.

Shipman has resigned, and according to court paperwork his trial is scheduled for March of next year.

County Attorney Thomas Velardi said corrections facilities throughout the country are struggling with a variety of intoxicating substances being consumed by inmates, who often get creative with smuggling and consuming the contraband.

Velardi said he reviewed a local case where an inmate was recently found using a sock to turn his orange juice into alcohol.

Conway said even though there is an intensive therapeutic community program for a portion of the inmate population, that wasn’t enough.

“We said, ‘What population are we missing? Let’s see if they buy into this, because the only incentive to do this is for their own recovery,’” Conway said on Thursday. The pilot programs are for inmates to join voluntarily, and will not be court-ordered.

Conway said the hope is that when inmates are released from jail, they will be in front of their addictions and the negative effects it has had on their lives.

Eight-week program

Through a collaboration with Southeastern NH Alcohol & Drug Abuse Services in Dover, the jail will pilot an eight-week intensive outpatient services program specifically focused on addiction related issues and mental health problems. Conway said this program will be nine to 12 hours per week with classes taught in blocks of three hours for three days, with additional time provided for individual counseling sessions.

SOS Recovery Community Organization is helping officials at the jail pilot an educational program for inmates 30 days prior to their release. Conway said this program will include an introduction to the organization and training on the use of Naloxone.

Inmates will be given a Naloxone kit in case they find a friend or family member overdosing on drugs after they are released. Conway said the program is a proven best practice in Canada, and officials at the jail were open to trying it when the director of SOS Recovery Community Organization approached them about it.

John Burns, director of SOS Recovery — which has locations in Dover, Durham and Rochester — is in long-term recovery and said SOS Recovery is excited to be part of the initiative.

“It is our hope at SOS Recovery Community Organization, that the day will come when individuals are no longer incarcerated for substance use disorders, and instead will receive robust treatment and recovery resources immediately when needed. However, while we wait for that day and continue to advocate for it, we are excited to have partners that work as closely with SOS as Strafford County Criminal Justice Programming, to provide these critical, life-saving, resources,” Burns said in a statement.

Mobile health team

The third pilot program is part of a partnership with Families First Health and Support Center, a Portsmouth-based community health center that offers mobile health clinics at a dozen locations on the Seacoast, including the Strafford County Complex. In the Medication Assisted Treatment Re-Entry Program, a nurse and substance abuse counselor from the mobile health team will meet with inmates before their release to assess their need for treatment.

All inmates being released from the jail can participate in the MAT program, which uses medications, as well as a combination of counseling and behavioral interventions, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders, Conway said.

“The goal of this pilot program is to improve transitions and connect these individuals with comprehensive care, including primary care and MAT services,” said Families First Clinical Director Sue Durkin in a statement. “On the day of their release, these individuals will already have a team in place to support them — a team of people who are invested in their success.”

Conway said the pilot programs started Sept. 5, and she hopes that over the course of the next few weeks officials will get a sense of how effective they will be.


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