— Jefferson Day Report Center positioned productively on front lines of addiction epidemic.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 60 percent of individuals arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illegal drugs at arrest. Nearly 50 percent of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted, and 80 percent abuse drugs and alcohol.
The Jefferson County Day Report Center (JCDRC) is a community corrections program that provides an alternative for the criminal justice system to transfer non-violent offenders into treatment rather than jail when alcohol and illegal drugs are linked to their criminal behavior.
The opiate (largely heroin) epidemic sweeping the region, state, and nation has plagued our community and created a need to expand access to treatment. The Jefferson County Commission, which approves funding for the JCDRC, recognized early on that there was no help on the way at the state or national level that would provide adequate resources to combat this epidemic.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to provide funding with the hope of rerouting non-violent offenders from jail into treatment. The JCDRC (121 W. Third St., Ranson) is one piece of a larger strategy to protect public safety and promote public health.
While nationwide, there is a lack of behavioral healthcare, the JCDRC provides clinical-level care by licensed providers. Medication assisted treatment—specifically Vivitrol—is also available as a treatment option. Unlike other medication for heroin addiction, Vivitrol is not a controlled substance, and is taken just once a month through injection. Increasingly popular as a durable treatment for heroin addiction, Vivitrol comes with no withdrawal, and has no street value.
Additionally, peer support, community engagement, evidence-based programs developed for the target population, and adjunct therapies that promote self-care are all components of the JCDRC—which also accepts Medicaid.
Ronda Eddy is executive director of the JCDRC—in operation since 2014. “I’m proud of the Jefferson County Commissioners; they stepped up and saw the value in making the investment in public safety and substance abuse,” she said. “They took a chance and said, we’re going to keep this going—it’s the right thing for the community.”
Nearly three years later, the JCDRC is far and away the most sophisticated and comprehensive such facility in the state. Currently boasting nearly 6,000 square feet of immaculate space, the JCDRC is a beacon of hope and productivity in what has a become a dark time for the state and the region—ranked at or near the top of most addiction-statistic categories for several years running.
Driven by a 23-year career in the federal prison system, Eddy’s hope was that a premier program and facility would carry credibility with both patients and leaders in local and state government. And it has.
The JCDRC currently helps numerous non-violent offenders while also serving as a cost-effective alternative to state tax dollars lost in jails and prisons (the state pays nearly $30K/year to house a single inmate—of which there are almost 7,000).
“I’m a native West Virginian, but when I started here, I simply didn’t realize how many people are struggling with substance abuse and mental health on the local level,” she said.
Her experience allows her to focus on a primary objective of seeking funding. Her contacts, as well as some of the programs she’s seen in operation on the federal level over the years, gives her the confidence to see to it that the JCDRC continues to operate as a model program for the state. “It’s a major challenge; my whole objective is to keep the funding coming in.”
Essentially, the JCDRC is a community corrections program that offers some behavioral health. “But our primary focus is community supervision,” Eddy affirmed. “Probation and parole have been doing this for years, but they don’t have the behavioral health component—and the heroin epidemic has added another layer of complexity to community corrections programs.”
The JCDRC offers individual, group, and family counseling, medication-assisted treatment, as well as Narcan training (Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, an opioid antagonist medication used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose).
BrainPaint is another (increasingly popular) option at the JCDRC. A non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical, collaborative training method for rebalancing and re-regulating the brain-wave frequencies that determine behavior, mood, memory, performance, sensory decoding (pain or pleasure) and thought creation, BrainPaint (also called neurofeedback) utilizes cutting-edge brain research, high-speed computer tracking, and algorithms (behavior predicting formulas), allowing participants to move away from old, painful, self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, and create new neural (brain) connections that are associated with focus, calmness, clarity, and motivation.
“On staff, we also have access to two psychiatrists, a clinical psychologist, and we’re working on either a PA [physician assistant] or a physician to help us with the administration of the Vivitrol [patients need a physical before they get the shot],” Eddy explained. “And we have peer recovery and community engagement.”
Eddy indicates that the JCDRC “groups” are broken down to just about anything you can think of: parenting, anger management, drug/alcohol education, women in recovery, primal movement (a new, and popular, program introduced by Shepherdstown’s Paul Koczera, of Two Rivers Treads), life skills, job preparation—all while providing in-patient detox, and even transportation.
As mentioned above, another key component of the JCDRC’s success is the “medication-assisted treatment program”—which uses secure video to access psychiatric help via a group based in Morgantown. Referred to as telepsychiatry, the term typically describes the delivery of psychiatric assessment and care through telecommunications technology—usually videoconferencing.
“We came to the realization that we just can’t have a good program unless we offer some type of medication-assisted treatment,” said Eddy, “because these folks have to live and work, and there aren’t many long-term facilities close by that they can go to.”
Key to the JCDRC’s success is the Justice Reinvestment Treatment Supervision grant. “It’s basically the money/savings the state Department of Corrections realizes by not re-incarcerating parolees who have non-violent offenses,” she noted. “The Community Corrections grant, as well. The County realized they’d rather spend their money on our treatment program than an ERJ (Eastern Regional Jail) bill, essentially. And truthfully, Justice Reinvestment will go down as Governor Tomblin’s legacy. West Virginia was a leader here. They were looking at having to build a new prison at five hundred million dollars or more. But they realized that the population was filled with non-violent offenders, so this program alleviated much of that burden.”
Ultimately, while the cost of incarceration can be measured in dollars, the return on investing in treatment programs like the Jefferson County Day Report Center, is measured in lives saved. Ronda Eddy has positioned the JCDRC productively on the front lines of the addiction epidemic—utilizing the combined power of cutting-edge treatment programs and County/State support.
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— Above pic caption: Jefferson County Prosecutor, Matt Harvey; Delegate Jill Upson (65th District); and JCDRC Executive Director, Ronda Eddy, pose in front of the Ranson facility.