Pubdate: Wed, 05 Feb 2003
Source: Capital Times, The  (WI)
Copyright: 2003 The Capital Times
Author: Bill Novak


Room Shortage at Jail Is Cited

Potential providers of alcohol and other drug abuse services to Dane
County Jail inmates have learned at the 11th hour they will have to
provide their own space if they want to run their programs.

This unexpected, major change in the request for proposal caused an
uproar at a conference of vendors on Jan. 21, said Supervisor Dennis
O'Loughlin, chair of the board's Public Protection and Judiciary Committee.

Not only would vendors have to pay to maintain an outpatient facility;
they were also told they would have to shoulder the cost of
transporting inmates between there and the jail several times a week
for the first 30 days, then regularly for the next six to nine months
for after-care counseling.

At the same time, the county told the 30 prospective vendors that,
despite the increased costs, there would be no increased

The chosen provider would still receive $211,000 for the
nine-month-long pilot program. Proposals are due Feb. 10; the program
is scheduled to start April 1.

"The vendor conference was a disaster," O'Loughlin

County officials said overcrowded jail facilities and a lack of
meeting rooms won't allow for the drug and alcohol program to be
conducted in the jail, located in downtown Madison.

And, despite initial hopes that the program could be housed at the
Ferris Huber Center, which is the residential work release facility
for minimum security inmates located on the grounds of Alliant Energy
Center on Rimrock Road, group sessions and one-on-one counseling
require privacy, and there's not enough room there.

Remodeling the Ferris Center to create a separate wing for the drug
and alcohol program isn't worth the money, county officials say,
because of the poor physical condition of the building and because the
county may abandon it and build a new one.

A treatment program for inmates has been a goal of County Executive
Kathleen Falk for several years.

While vendors contacted by The Capital Times would not comment on the
changes in the proposal, Falk said they have assured her that the new
guidelines won't pose problems and the pilot program will be up and
running by April 1.

Several potential vendors have existing space for both in-patient and
outpatient programs, including Tellurian UCAN Inc. and Meriter Hospital.

Human Services Communications Manager David Carlson said he doesn't
think having vendors provide space will be a problem.

"There are providers who could do it," he said.

Funding for the pilot program has been scaled back since it was
initially proposed.

The County Board approved $1 million in its 2002 capital budget for
planning, building and implementing programs and facilities for
inmates with substance abuse problems, but it was never spent and
carried over to 2003. It remains untouched.

A study done by Zimmerman Consulting in the summer of 2002 recommended
spending about $600,000 in 2003 on a 30-day in-house pilot treatment
program for up to 50 inmates, coupled with a six-to nine-month
after-care program.

However, the County Board approved spending only $211,000 out of its
operating budget for the pilot project in 2003.

The difference, amounting to nearly $400,000, will come from
departmental budgets and inmates themselves, who would pay for
electronic monitoring in the after-care portion of the program.

Falk's executive assistant Billy Feitlinger said overall costs for the
pilot program were also reduced in 2003 because it was originally
slated to begin Jan. 1, and now won't start until April.

In the month since the vendors were told of the changes, the county
has invited frustrated vendors to suggest additional ideas for running
the program.

Because it is a pilot project, Falk says the county is open to
innovative ideas such as education in lieu of treatment and very
long-term mentoring instead of traditional counseling. And, it might
be possible to extend the program into 2004 to accommodate the
particular program chosen.

"This is a pilot program. The whole idea of a pilot is to learn what
works," Falk said. "It's really important we have an open mind. We are
trying something we haven't done before."

"Treatment plans would be geared to individuals," Carlson said. "The
30-day treatment program would be pretty much the same for the
participants, but the after-care part would be specifically developed
for the individual."

Many of the vendors who are considering running the jail AODA (alcohol
and other drug abuse) program already provide such services to Dane
County residents through the Human Service Department.

Currently, 12 different agencies are working with Human Services
running 40 different programs, including court-ordered treatments and
those that allow people to avoid jail time if they get treatment.

Tellurian, for instance, has a 30-bed locked detention facility for
severe detoxification and commitment cases.

However, the pilot program would make use of less intense approaches
aimed at work release jail inmates who voluntarily choose to
participate. Inmates in the work release program are allowed to choose
between work, treatment or care of their own children to fill their
daytime hours, Carlson said.

Falk stressed that specifics and details of the pilot program will be
worked out; the primary focus should be keeping inmates with alcohol
and drug abuse problems from coming back to jail time after time.

"We will learn whether it works on keeping people from committing
crimes," Falk said. "And, does the sheriff, the judges and the
district attorney's office have confidence in it?"

Falk said she hopes the combined efforts will allow Dane County to
craft the best AODA inmate program possible, because everyone involved
in county law enforcement has a stake in its success.

"That's what's great about Dane County," Falk said. "The people in
these offices are not just satisfied with the status quo."

If the pilot program is a success, county officials say space for a
permanent program might become available in the City-County Building
beginning in 2005 when various county departments move into the new
courthouse in December 2004.

The County Board's Justice System Space Needs Committee is meeting for
the first time tonight to look at future jail and law enforcement
space, including how to accommodate drug and alcohol treatment space
once the new courthouse is completed.

Before any thought is given on making space at the Ferris Center for
an AODA program in 2005, the county needs to decide if it will
continue using the Ferris Center as its work release facility.

The building is in bad shape; the state Department of Corrections has
ordered the county to make major repairs just so it can continue being
used as a jail facility. The County Board earmarked $350,000 in the
2003 budget for repairs that are not yet under way. Sheriff Gary
Hamblin told The Capital Times he doesn't want to spend money fixing
the Ferris Center now if it's going to be renovated in the future to
house an AODA program.

Remodeling part of the Ferris Center to house a future drug and
alcohol treatment program wouldn't resolve the confidentiality issue,
said David Carlson, communications manager for the county's Human
Services Department.

"Whether in jail or not, you wouldn't want anyone knowing you were
getting AODA services," Carlson said.
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