Pubdate: Wed, 25 Sep 2002
Source: Omaha World-Herald (NE)
Copyright: 2002 Omaha World-Herald Company
Author: Chris Clayton
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


COUNCIL BLUFFS - While state officials say methamphetamine use among women 
keeps soaring, a women's halfway house built last year to help female 
prisoners with drug problems remains empty. Ready to open last November, 
the women's Residential Correctional Facility in Council Bluffs was built 
to house up to 26 women, but it remains closed. Officials of the 4th 
Judicial District officials maintain the facility by checking on lights, 
running water and flushing the toilets just to make sure the place doesn't 
slide into disrepair.

"That's one of the facilities I catch the most flak on," said Delbert King, 
a Pottawattamie County supervisor who sits on the 4th Judicial District 
Board. Matt Gelvin, director of the judicial district, said it would take 
about $618,000 to run the facility for a year, but the judicial district is 
about $525,000 short. He is hopeful that a recommended 9.4 percent budget 
increase for the Iowa Department of Corrections next year will allow the 
facility to open.

"Right now, we don't have the operating funds to hire staff and put the 
programs in place," Gelvin said.

Judicial district officials began building the $1.2 million halfway house 
in May 2000 after prison officials determined that southwest Iowa needed a 
facility targeting counseling and drug treatment for women. Iowa's only 
other correctional halfway house specifically for women is in Des Moines. 
Last year, officials estimated that it would take about 15 staffers to 
operate, including guards, counselors, managers and clerical workers. 
Officials were prepared to begin hiring last November when they were told 
to halt.

Right now, women take up 10 beds in the men's Residential Correctional 
Facility just across the street from the empty women's building. While as 
many as eight women also are waiting for an Residential Correctional 
Facility bed to open up, so are at least 46 men in the judicial district, 
which serves southwest Iowa. Beds open up in the facility about every 60 to 
90 days. "Ten beds is a lot when it comes to jails or corrections," Gelvin 

Women who enter the facility typically would be required to work, submit to 
drug testing and undergo various drug, alcohol and family counseling services.

Gelvin said the judicial district might be able to hire a counselor and 
drug-treatment coordinator to begin offering day programs at the women's 
center as early as January. That would put the building to some use until 
it is fully funded.

The women's facility was 99 percent built and ready to open nearly a year 
ago when it was put on hold because budget problems forced lawmakers to cut 
projects. The Iowa Department of Corrections right now is trying to manage 
employee furloughs this year to trim $6 million in salaries. Iowa's 
drug-policy czar said last week at a regional summit on methamphetamine 
that the growing use of the drug among women is becoming one of the state's 
biggest problems in corrections. Bruce Upchurch, director of the Governor's 
Office on Drug Policy, said Iowa would need more community-based 
correctional facilities to keep the population down at the state's costlier 
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager