OASAS Contact: Jennifer Farrell 518-457-8299, JenniferFarrell@oasas.ny.gov

DOCS Contact: Erik Kriss, 518-457-8182, Erik.Kriss@docs.state.ny.us

Division of Parole Contact: Heather Groll, 518 486-4631, HGroll@parole.state.ny.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 2, 2009

STATE AGENCIES PARTNER ON PRISON-BASED ADDICTION SERVICES
Willard Campus: a “Blueprint for the Future” under Rockefeller Drug Law Reform

Leaders of New York’s drug treatment and criminal justice systems today announced a collaboration on behind the walls addiction services that will serve as a blueprint for the future under Rockefeller Drug Reform.

The New York State Department of Correctional Services’ (DOCS) Willard Drug Treatment Campus in Seneca County is launching a new phase of the corrections-based drug treatment readiness program in collaboration with the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the Division of Parole (DOP) to enhance addiction services “behind the walls” to parolees as part of the Rockefeller Drug Law Reforms signed this year by Governor David A. Paterson.

Opened in 1995 as a result of the Sentencing Reform Act, Willard has served as a national model for correctional addiction services. Through this new initiative, Willard will provide a blueprint for preparing parolees for community-based treatment upon their release from prison. It represents a continuation of Willard’s ground-breaking work.

Denise E. O’Donnell, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Public Safety and Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, joined in announcing the newest phase of this initiative at Willard today with the Commissioners of OASAS and DOCS and the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Office of DOP, whose agencies collaborated on developing the service model.

OASAS Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo presented DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer with a Specialized Services Operating Certificate for Willard that will best address the unique needs of the parole violators who participate in the 90-day Willard program as an alternative to a return to a traditional correctional facility.

Under the new OASAS 1045 Specialized Services Operating Certificate, the DOCS-operated Willard Drug Treatment Campus has begun providing increased clinical services to participating parolees, including smaller group sessions and an intervention component for participants who do not meet diagnostic criteria for substance abuse or dependency. As part of person-centered therapy, and aided by more intensive, individual counseling sessions, the approximately 850 Willard parolees are taking a more active role in defining their own goals -- a critical step to successful recovery.

The OASAS-operated Dick Van Dyke Addiction Treatment Center, located on the Willard campus, has provided additional training for all Willard staff responsible for direct provision of person-centered therapy. Willard began implementing the new, enhanced clinical strategies, including smaller group sessions, over the last six months since it received the recommendations of OASAS. Within the last month, Willard has fully implemented the enhanced services throughout the facility. The program emphasizes ongoing treatment for participants after their release from Willard at another OASAS-certified program.

These enhancements will improve participants’ opportunity to lead substance abuse-free and productive lives, while contributing to public safety and strengthening communities.

Deputy Secretary and DCJS Commissioner O’Donnell said, “Our focus is always on public safety and our objective is not only to fight crime, but to prevent crime and victimization. Providing appropriate services to individuals whose criminal behavior is connected to an addiction or abuse of drugs and/or alcohol will put a stop to the revolving door, transform former offenders into community assets and protect the public.”

DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer said, “We are improving upon the already nationally-recognized services we provide to parolees at Willard in order to enhance public safety and help the participants deal with addiction. In cooperation with OASAS and in accordance with this year’s reforms to the Rockefeller Drug Laws, we intend to add key elements of the new Willard practices to the varied and numerous substance abuse programs we already provide at many of our correctional facilities for offenders who remain incarcerated.“

OASAS Commissioner Carpenter-Palumbo said, “Eighty percent, or 47,200, of the individuals currently in the state prison system have a substance abuse problem. In light of the Rockefeller Drug Law reforms and OASAS’ mandate to prepare guidelines and monitor addiction services “behind the walls,” the Willard addiction services model is a blueprint for the future that will ensure quality addiction services to address the unique needs of this population.”

Andrea Evans, Chairwoman NYS Board of Parole and Chief Executive Officer of the New York State Division of Parole said, “Substance abuse is one of the greatest barriers to successfully completing parole. The program here at Willard is an opportunity to help the addicted choose sobriety and in doing so eliminate the behaviors that often result in criminal activity and a return to prison.  This program is a proactive way to protect public safety by stopping crime before it happens.”

On April 24, 2009, Governor Paterson signed into law sweeping reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The reforms eliminate the harsh sentences that the Rockefeller Drug Laws mandated by giving judges total authority to divert nonviolent addicts to treatment and greatly expanding drug treatment programs. The law strikes a careful and appropriate balance to ensure that nonviolent, addicted offenders get the treatment they need while predatory kingpins get the punishment they deserve.
When fully implemented, these reforms will lead to a significant investment in the OASAS addiction services system.

At today’s ceremony, Commissioners Fischer and Carpenter-Palumbo and Chairwoman Evans presented certificates of recognition to 14 members of the Willard Addiction  Services Team who worked on the treatment readiness model.

Kelly Truax, Correction Counselor, ASAT, said, “We have adopted a client-centered counseling approach rather than a program-centered one. This has assisted participants with taking an active role in their own treatment and increased their motivation for change. In addition, we have begun providing small group therapy which has been a huge success.”

Parolee and participant Victor Rivera, 23, said, “The small groups at Willard helped me open up about my problems, learn about my addiction and learn to trust. The treatment team never gave up on me when I wanted to give up. Because of the work I have done here at Willard, I now have pictures of my (four-year-old) son, and have talked to him on the phone. I know he likes vanilla ice cream and SpongeBob. He knows his ABC’s and how to count, but what hurts me the most is he doesn’t know me. Things are going to change now. I’m no longer in denial, and I can face my fears. No where else could I have gotten this chance.”

The Willard Drug Treatment Campus provides a 90-day drug-free residential alcohol and substance abuse treatment readiness program to offenders as an alternative to confinement in a conventional correctional facility, followed by a six-month intensive parole supervision program in the community that includes either residential, day or outpatient treatment. The Willard addiction treatment model concludes with parole community supervision in accordance with the court-imposed sentence to best establish effective community re-entry practices.

The parolees receive education and counseling that emphasizes abstinence from all mood-altering substances and the importance of continuing care, as addiction is a chronic, progressive illness.

Within the Willard program, all offenders participate in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment (ASAT), a drug education and group counseling program that is based on principles of 12-step and other self-help programs. It is part of the comprehensive program comprising more than 40 hours of substance abuse services and education to participants each week throughout the 90-day program.

WDTC has a strong vocational/educational component, including GED classes.

The enhanced program requires regularly scheduled, small group therapy sessions where a maximum of 18 participants at each session address problems that arise in day-to-day life in the prison.

OASAS oversees one of the nation's largest addiction services systems dedicated to Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, with more than 1,550 programs serving over 110,000 New Yorkers on any given day.

Addiction is a chronic disease and New Yorkers need to know that help and hope is available. Individuals can get help by calling the toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day a week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY. For more information, visit www.oasas.ny.gov.