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Development and Implementation of a Jail-Based Substance Abuse Treatment Program

NCJ Number
Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions Volume: 9 Issue: 1 Dated: January-March 2009 Pages: 91-112
Donald M. LinhorstPh.D., M.S.W.; P. Ann Dirks-Linhorst Ph.D., J.D.; Herbert L. Bernsen M.S.W.; Julia Childrey B.S.
Date Published
March 2009
22 pages
This article describes the development and implementation of the Choices program, a jail-based substance abuse treatment program located in a suburban county jail in Missouri.
The Choices program is operated within the St. Louis County, Missouri jail by substance abuse counselors who are Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) employees. The program is 90 days with clients, both male and female, participating in an average of 25 hours of programming weekly. Circuit court judges sentence clients to the program with some clients jailed only for the duration of the program, whereas others complete the program as part of a longer jail term. During its first 7 years, from August 1998 to August 2005, the Choices program admitted 1,639 clients with a mean age of 32 years and ranging from 17 to 79 years. The Choices program, one example of a jail-based substance abuse treatment program, illustrates the process for developing such programs, and the challenges to sustain them. Program development and implementation issues discussed in this article include: program initiation, funding and capacity, admission decisions, referral and selection of clients, program duration, program components, aftercare, program location, staffing and training, and program evaluation. Recommendations are offered that are useful for developing and implementing substance abuse treatment programs in jails which have the potential to enhance public safety by reducing new criminal activities and helping those vulnerable and at-risk individuals rebuild their lives. Figure, table, and references