Correctional leaders, legislators and treatment professionals gathered this week at Sussex Correctional Institution to unveil redesigned substance-use disorder treatment programs for offenders that will launch across Department of Correction (DOC) facilities this November.
DOC officials said significant numbers of individuals who are sentenced to DOC supervision struggle with substance abuse, and many experience co-occurring disorders, including substance-use disorder and mental illness that require specialized treatment.
For the past 30 years, they said, the DOC has offered a range of programs designed to balance safety and treatment needs through individual and group treatment, psychiatric care, and re-entry services. However, those programs had not been substantially revised in more than two decades and no longer reflected modern best practices.
More than a year ago, as the DOC implemented Medication Assisted Treatment in its facilities, the department initiated a comprehensive review of its substance-use disorder drug and alcohol treatment programs. Earlier this year, it began a redesign of those programs to incorporate the latest proven evidence-based treatment practices in collaboration with its medical and behavioral healthcare provider, Centurion Health.
“The Department of Correction recognized that we needed to restructure our once-progressive, but now-outdated, substance-use treatment programs to incorporate modern evidence-based methods and practices, and our treatment programs needed to reflect the unique needs of the current opioid, heroin and other dangerous drug addictions that are tearing families apart and fueling drug wars, gun crimes, and gang violence,” Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said.
“Thanks to close collaboration with our behavioral healthcare provider Centurion, and strong support from judges and other stakeholders, the DOC is once again positioned to offer cutting-edge treatment to the offenders who walk into prison addicted to drugs and alcohol.”
Renamed “Road 2 Recovery,” DOC’s substance-use disorder (SUD) treatment program leverages a nationally-recognized therapeutic community treatment model and enhanced program elements:
A comprehensive assessment, drug screen, and multi-disciplinary clinical review will be used to identify individuals who need treatment and guide placement in one of three tracks. Road 2 Recovery employs the Texas Christian University (TCU) Comprehensive Assessment tool, widely used in criminal justice and community treatment settings across the nation.
Each participant will be guided by an individualized treatment plan based upon his or her specific needs that are identified through the assessment process.
New treatment curriculums are being introduced, including interactive journaling. The journals help participants to work on treatment needs both in and outside of group sessions.
Additional “electives” will be offered to participants, including Trauma, Co-Occurring Disorders, and Healthy Relationships, in addition to continuing to offer the existing anger management elective.
Progression through treatment will be determined by achieving treatment benchmarks and demonstrating progress through ongoing assessments.
Each participant will be guided by an individualized treatment plan based upon his or her specific needs.
In addition to being offered in state prisons, Road 2 Recovery SUD treatment will be offered to individuals who are sentenced to Level IV community corrections supervision. Earlier this year, the DOC consolidated its SUD treatment programs for Level IV male offenders at the Morris Community Corrections Center (MCCC) in Dover, allowing the DOC to standardize program delivery, reduce the need to split treatment staff across multiple sites, and leverage the historically low Level IV population. As MCCC’s treatment role grew, however, the design limitations of the 100 year-old facility presented increasing challenges, officials said.
After a careful assessment of its treatment and security needs, the DOC announced this week that it will reopen the currently-vacant Central Violation of Probation Center in Smyrna as its statewide SUD treatment facility for Level IV male offenders. The facility, officials said, offers more appropriate programming and treatment space, additional staff workspaces, and incorporates an open design that is more conducive to SUD cognitive community requirements.
When the former Central Violation of Probation Center opens later this fall, it will be renamed the Community Corrections Treatment Center, officials said, to more accurately reflect the role it will play in meeting DOC’s dual mission of public safety and second chances. Meanwhile, DOC’s SUD treatment program for Level IV female offenders will continue to be provided at the Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility in New Castle.
Additionally, during this week’s announcement, officials announced that the substance-use disorder treatment building at Sussex Correctional Institution has been renamed for former DOC Commissioner Stan Taylor. Taylor was an early champion of correctional substance-abuse treatment, and his administration developed DOC’s existing treatment programs.