Saturday, Dec. 2

Illinois observes National Meth Awareness Day, highlights innovative Meth Prison and Reentry Program

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[DEC. 2, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- On National Meth Awareness Day, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's administration touted Illinois' new, innovative Meth Prison and Reentry Program. Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center will become a first-of-its-kind national model for reducing crime and recidivism among meth offenders. Illinois Department of Corrections Director Roger E. Walker Jr., joined by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy deputy director and other state and local partners, explained the Meth Prison and Reentry Program Thursday morning at the Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center in East St. Louis. The governor also proclaimed Thursday as Meth Prevention Day in Illinois.

"Illinois is a national leader in fighting drugs, crime and helping addicts turn their lives around," Blagojevich said. "Meth is one of the most destructive drugs plaguing our communities. Our Meth Prison and Reentry Initiative at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center will focus on the very specific challenges facing people addicted to meth, so they can return to their families and communities and lead productive crime- and drug-free lives."

The governor announced last week that the Department of Corrections officially chose a group of partners and community-based providers to help build a new, cutting-edge model for reducing crime among meth-involved offenders. Under the Meth Prison Initiative, hundreds of inmates at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center will undergo a newly developed, highly intensive drug treatment and community re-entry program to combat meth addiction and reduce crime.

The Department of Corrections and the Illinois Department of Human Services joined national and statewide partners to observe National Meth Awareness Day with a planning and strategy session at the Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center, where they will continue developing the initiative and exploring successful new ways of treating meth offenders in the program.

Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, spoke in recognition of Illinois' efforts and National Meth Awareness Day.

"It is my great honor and privilege to officially observe the first-ever National Methamphetamine Awareness Day here in East St. Louis, Illinois," Madras said. "The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy appreciates the dedication of the state of Illinois and the hard work of the Illinois Department of Corrections in combating the deadly scourge of methamphetamine abuse. Meth is a serious and highly toxic drug that adversely affects countless American lives and devastates numerous communities. However, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy -- along with our friends and partners, such as the state of Illinois and the Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center -- are making progress against meth. Nationally, we have witnessed a 35 percent decrease in youth meth use in the last four years through the implementation of our balanced strategy of prevention, treatment and enforcement. The state of Illinois is a major part of that successful story, and it is my pleasure to officially recognize their achievements against meth abuse on National Methamphetamine Awareness Day."

The governor's meth prison initiative includes creating two meth units, one at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center and one at Sheridan Correctional Center in LaSalle County. In fiscal 2007, the governor will create a 200-bed meth unit at the 667-bed Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center and make the entire prison another fully dedicated drug prison and re-entry program in the model of Sheridan. In fiscal 2008, the governor will expand the Sheridan Correctional Center from 950 offenders to its full capacity of 1,300 offenders, with 200 of those spaces to be used for another meth unit. As with the current Sheridan model, inmates in both programs will access intensive prison-based drug treatment programs, vocational training, job preparation and mental health services; and upon completion of their sentence, their treatment will continue under a highly supervised transition back to their communities. The Southwestern program is being supported through $1.9 million in state funding and $4.78 million in federal funding.

With this initiative, the governor has charged our department with finding new and more effective ways to reduce repeat crime among meth offenders in the prison system, and we are making tremendous progress in meeting this challenge with the first-rate partners we have brought on board in recent weeks," said Walker, the Department of Corrections director. "This program gives IDOC the opportunity to continue our efforts, similar to the Sheridan project, to develop new and innovative ways to address the impact of drugs on crime and recidivism, especially regarding the meth crisis that plagues so many communities in central and southern Illinois."

Through the Sheridan project, the model established in Illinois is a comprehensive one that focuses on several criminogenic factors by including drug treatment, education and job training, mental health, family reunification, and full re-entry services that are managed by a parole agent and re-entry team. The project has reduced recidivism of the participants by more than 40 percent better than a comparison group.

"The treatment program at Southwestern prison helps drug offenders recover from their addictions and break the cycle of drugs, crime and poverty," said Department of Human Services Secretary Carol Adams. "Inmates at Southwestern will participate in integrated programs including drug treatment, vocational training, education and closely supervised community re-entry. This approach to treatment gives the recovering person the best chance of success."

The program at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center will be led by CiviGenics, the nation's largest correctional treatment company, and will be a national model for therapeutic interventions with this ever-growing segment of the inmate population. There are many myths about methamphetamine, one of which is that no effective treatment for meth addicts exists. Another widely circulated notion has it that once the habit is acquired, the prognosis for methamphetamine users is near hopeless. While this is demonstrably false, it is true that methamphetamine poses some unique treatment challenges that require unique solutions.

"When responding to the governor's charge to reach out across the state and the nation to seek model programs for reducing crime among meth offenders, we learned that there were no recognized model programs for meth offenders," said Deanne Benos, assistant director of the Department of Corrections. "This has become an exciting challenge for our team here in Illinois. We found that the only nationally recognized meth treatment program is the Matrix Model in California, and it is an entirely community-based model. Therefore, our team has reached out and brought the creator of that model, Dr. Rawson, to our design team."

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"Illinois' public safety and law enforcement agencies have taken a national lead in developing systemic responses to the unrelenting epidemic of methamphetamines," said Roy Ross, CiviGenics president and chief executive officer. "The strides in interdiction, apprehension, adjudication and incarceration have been impressive. Now, with the inauguration of a dedicated meth unit at SWICC, the treatment community is contributing innovative strategies of its own that will turn the tide of this fearsome and devastating addiction. CiviGenics can think of no abler partner than IDOC, nor any better venue than SWICC -- an institution wholly devoted to drug treatment -- to help assure positive outcomes and to set the pace for future 'best practice.'"

To ensure that this initiative emerges as a best practice model for future programs for the meth-offender population, the Department of Corrections and CiviGenics have retained Dr. Richard Rawson of UCLA and Dr. Kevin Knight of Texas Christian University to lend expert guidance in the processes of clinician training, quality assurance and outcomes measurement.

Rawson is the primary developer of the Matrix Model and is one of the most renowned researchers in the field of methamphetamine addiction. As a professor with Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and as associate director of UCLA's prestigious Integrated Substance Abuse Program, Rawson oversees a portfolio of addiction research ranging from brain imaging studies to clinical trials on pharmacological and psychosocial addiction treatments. Knight, as a chief research scientist with the Institute of Behavioral Research, is recognized as a national leader in the development of metrics for therapeutic best practice in correctional settings.

What distinguishes the program at Sheridan and Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center from other programs is that it has an extensive focus on community safety and also includes funding for the most highly supervised and supported re-entry program in state history. CiviGenics will provide the prison-based drug treatment and is developing the model meth program. Safer Foundation is providing the prison-based and post-release job preparation and placement programming. Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities is providing the prison-based and community clinical case management. The Community Support and Advisory Council system will work with re-entering offenders into their neighborhoods.

"In addition, we have found many dedicated community leaders, particularly from central and southern Illinois, where Meth has hit the hardest, who have offered their suggestions based upon their extensive experience with this population," Walker said. "Together, we look forward to establishing a new model to curtail the meth crisis that has devastated so many communities throughout our state and the nation."

Meth has become a growing crisis in Illinois, with related prison admissions rising from only six in fiscal 1999 to 421 in fiscal 2004. The current prison population for meth offenders is more than 800, with countless others in prison who are believed to have committed their offense while under the influence of the drug.

To raise awareness about the problem of meth and what his administration is doing to address it, the governor proclaimed Nov. 30 as Meth Prevention Day. The text of the proclamation follows:

WHEREAS, methamphetamine, or meth, is one of the biggest threats to our rural communities and the families who live in them; and

WHEREAS, meth is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system, and is derived from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, commonly used in cold medicine; and

WHEREAS, chronic abuse of meth can lead to psychotic behavior, characterized by intense paranoia, hallucinations, and out-of-control rages that can be coupled with extremely violent behavior; and

WHEREAS, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) reports that approximately 800 offenders in the Department have been incarcerated for meth-related crimes; and

WHEREAS, in FY04, Illinois had 490 inmates in prison for meth-related offenses. In FY05, that number jumped to 541 meth-related inmates. Many more inmates may be currently incarcerated for violent or property crimes that were related to a meth addiction; and

WHEREAS, over two years, my administration will create two Meth Units, one at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center (SWICC) and one at Sheridan. This year, we will create a 200 bed Meth Unit at the 667 bed Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center and make the entire prison another fully dedicated drug prison and reentry program in the model of Sheridan. Next year, we will expand the Sheridan Correctional Center from 950 offenders to its full capacity of 1300 offenders, with 200 of those spaces to be used for another Meth Unit; and

WHEREAS, my administration has charged the IDOC to develop a cutting-edge new model for the nation that will reduce recidivism among meth-addicted offenders, and will be launched at SWICC and then added to Sheridan; and

WHEREAS, inmates at Southwestern and Sheridan will participate in integrated programs including drug treatment, vocational training, education, and closely supervised community reentry; and

WHEREAS, in order to break the cycle of crime and addiction, these Meth Units will enable meth-addicted prisoners to receive treatment, counseling, and job training. Thus, these prisoners will have a better chance of leaving prison without the drug addiction that threatens their lives and our communities:

THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim November 30, 2006 as METH PREVENTION DAY in Illinois.

[News release from the governor's office]


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