Pubdate: Fri, 20 Aug 2004
Source: Courier-Journal, The (KY)
Copyright: 2004 The Courier-Journal
Author: Eric L. Bruns


It seems that Gov. Ernie Fletcher is being poorly served by his
commissioner for the Department of Corrections. Two recent examples
that have come to the public's attention involve the firing of his
mental health chief, Dr. Rick Purvis, and the decision to have
institutional psychologists report not to a qualified mental health
supervisor, but to deputy wardens.

A third example that has not come to the public's attention involves
the dismantling of the beginnings of effective substance abuse
treatment for incarcerated felons.

The commissioner was credited in an article in The Courier-Journal
with wanting to "expand ... drug treatment in the prison system." This
has been accomplished by tripling the number of inmates who receive
such treatment services without adding a single staff member to handle
this increase.

As a licensed clinical psychologist and former director of the program
located at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, I am incensed at this
terrible decision. Anyone who is familiar with research that documents
what is effective in prison-based substance-abuse treatment would know
that this sets Kentucky back 10 to 20 years in its ability to help
inmates be ready to lead livesof sobriety upon release tosociety.

The citizens of the commonwealth may not care about what goes on in
the prisons, but I bet they would care if they realized the almost
guaranteed odds of these inmates re-offending upon release from prison.

This sort of decision may save Kentucky some money now, but at the
expense of more intensive parole supervision and the cost of sending
these folks back to prison....

Eric L. Bruns

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Greensburg, Ky.
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