By Stephen Smoot
Last week, Governor Jim Justice announced that his office will provide $5.4 million in support of 30 community corrections programs across the state. According to the Governor’s office, funds will be “utilized for the continued operation of a community corrections program in Harrison County.”
Across the state, the funding will go to support Day Report Centers that provide a key component in drug recovery while also holding non violent offenders accountable for their actions.
As the Bureau of Medical Services of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources provider manual states, Day Report Centers “are responsible for carrying out the dual purpose of imposing sanctions on and providing services to offenders. From this dual purpose stems the over-achieving responsibility of supervising the offender in the community.”
The program targets non violent offenders whose crimes or other contributing behaviors stem from drug abuse and/or addiction. Day Report Centers provide the twin benefits of lowering the cost of community corrections while also maintaining connections, when appropriate, between offenders and their families, jobs, and other support systems.
Often, Day Report Centers get confused with the drug court program. Some think the two are the same program. Drug court programs offer extremely intensive programs that Judge Charlie Carl of the 22nd Circuit recently said were much more difficult on individuals than the alternative prison sentence.
“The Adult Drug Court program,” according to the West Virginia Judiciary website, “seeks to achieve a reduction in recidivism and substance abuse among offenders and to increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation through early, continuous, and intense treatment, mandatory periodic drug testing, community supervision, appropriate sanctions and incentives, and other rehabilitation services, all of which are supervised by a judicial officer.”
Day Report Centers partner with drug courts, but focus on clients’ mental health. Therapy and treating mental health, as well as addiction, serves as the core of Day Report programs, which are less intense than those required by drug court..
The state also embraced the day report concept because it helps to lessen the regional jail cost for county commissions. According to the West Virginia Daily News funding comes from a “community corrections grant provided by the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services, and a Justice Reinvestment Initiative grant, a program aimed at driving down criminal costs using evidence-based, cost-benefit analysis.”
In the past, the DHHR encouraged “providers that have the capability to render services via Telehealth to allow easier access to services for WV Medicaid Members.” As of July 1, however, telehealth services connected to the Day Report program will cease.
Darren Taylor, executive director of the South Branch Day Report Center, recently informed a county commission in his region that virtual meetings have far less positive impact on clients’ lives and behavior than face to face visits.