News and Tribune

Clark County

November 12, 2008

CLARK COUNTY: Program focuses on treating repeat offenders

Intensive treatment, house arrest part of new program

A new program in Clark County is providing treatment options for offenders with substance abuse problems throughout Southern Indiana.

Centerstone, which provides community-based behavioral health care in Indiana and Tennessee, launched a new forensic diversion program Oct. 1 in the Clark County Community Corrections facility in Jeffersonville.

The program aims to reduce recidivism rates among repeat offenders who suffer from chemical addictions.

“This is an intensive program that focuses not only on the substance abuse but the criminal thinking as well,” said Linda Grove-Paul, program director for Centerstone’s Forensic Diversion Program.

“Almost all of them are offenders who have been in the system multiple times. You can sentence them, but it’s pretty much expected that once they’re released, they will be arrested again.”

Unlike drug court which is a pre-sentencing program, judges actually sentence criminal offenders to the forensic diversion program.

Residence in the program is 90 days of intensive treatment, followed by as many as nine months of court-ordered outpatient after-care services. During this time, the offenders are placed under house arrest.

People who have committed a violent crime or were charged with a serious drug-dealing crime are not accepted, but almost anyone else is eligible, Grove-Paul said.

She said one of the goals during those nine months is to integrate the offenders back into society by helping with employment, housing and social services. They also offer psychiatric services and accept offenders who have mental health disorders along with chemical dependency.

The intensive program only accepts 15 patients at a time. So far, only five people are going through the program. Grove-Paul is hopeful that the numbers will increase as Centerstone meets with more courts and explains the program.

According to a press release from Centerstone, the program is largely funded by a $2.2 million, four-year grant from the Indiana Division of Mental Health and the Indiana Department of Correction.

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