West Virginia launches first inpatient treatment program in a regional jail

HOLDEN, W.Va. — State prison inmates housed in the Southwestern Regional Jail in Logan County are now able to enroll in a drug treatment program there.

The state Division of Corrections and the Regional Jail Authority partnered to launch West Virginia’s first inpatient treatment program in a regional jail last week for male inmates who have been sentenced to state prison.

The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) unit in Holden includes 28 beds, bringing the total number of beds devoted to that program up to 535 statewide. The DOC already operates RSAT units at nine of its facilities.

Inmates will live in the same housing unit, eat meals together and work together during the program.

“They are put into this environment for 6-12 months to develop a sense of community to come to understand their addiction affects not just them, but it affects all the people around them,” said Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Mike Coleman.

Faster access to treatment is the goal of the program, Coleman said.

“We’re getting some of these guys access to this program in jail as opposed to waiting until they get a DOC facility,” he said.

Overcrowding in state prisons has been issue in West Virginia for some time, Coleman said, so they wanted to make sure these services were made available to inmates who are waiting to be transferred to DOC facilities.

Coleman said inmates will be screened to make sure they, in fact, have an addiction problem then will be admitted to the program.

“This gives them an opportunity to learn about themselves, learn about their problem, learn about how their problem affects others to gain some insights on how to try to avoid using again once they get out of the artificial environment of the institution out into the real world,” he said.

If an inmate is eligible for parole and complete the RSAT program, the Parole Board will be notified.

The joint effort goes along with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s continuing focus on West Virginia’s abuse issues and his emphasis on pursuing operational efficiencies.

There are about 1,100 inmates currently housed in regional jails across the state, Coleman said.

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