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Dept. of Correction launches overhaul of substance abuse treatment program

Roman Battaglia / Delaware Public Media
Members of DOC and the general assembly in front of the newly renamed substance abuse treatment center

The Delaware Department of Correction unveiled a new substance abuse treatment program across the state prison system.


DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis says the new program, called Road to Recovery, is a major overhaul of the now decades old treatment program, Key and Crest. She says the amount of people re-entering the prison system after attending treatment was alarming judges throughout the state.


“So the offenders who are assigned to that building, to that housing unit go to counseling together, talk through their addiction issues, eat together, rec together, sleep in the same building," said Dematteis. "It’s a group based therapy.”


Each participant’s treatment in Road to Recovery is guided by an individualized plan based on their specific needs to ensure that prisoners have the tools they need once they get released.


The new program can handle up to 400 men and 100 women statewide, with some staying in the program up to a year or as little as 3 months. 


DeMatteis says the new program, called Road to Recovery, builds on a year's worth of work, collaborating with the University of Delaware and DOC’s healthcare provider, Centurion.


“It’s an individualized treatment plan to understand; why do you commit crime? Why are you depending on drugs? What hidden thing are you running from that your answer is opioids,” DeMatties said.


DeMatteis says in order to avoid seeing the same problems that popped up with the old program, there will be regular evaluations of the R2R program to measure its effectiveness and suggest changes.


The announcement was made at a ceremony renaming the Sussex Correctional treatment building after Stan Taylor - the commissioner who founded the previous Key and Crest program back in 1988. 


He spoke at the unveiling, acknowledging that now, the program has become a lot more dated, and like anything, needed an update.


The launch has been a year in the making, and will be department-wide starting in November.


During the same press conference was an announcement that the Morris Community Correctional Center in Dover is closing.


DeMatteis says there just aren't as many prisoners as there were back then when many of the facilities were built in the 80’s to deal with the crack cocaine epidemic.


“We have over 1000 level four beds, six facilities, we have 300 offenders, 300. So we have the luxury of being able to close a facility and truly focus on the facility that’s built to be a treatment center,” said DeMatteis./


She says Morris will be used as a staff training center until there’s a need for it to house prisoners again.


The closure of Morris will allow the department to consolidate staff and direct focus towards the new treatment centers elsewhere.


Dematteis adds DOC will work to get the facility re-accredited to ensure it’s ready to be reopened in the future.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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