Pubdate: Mon, 04 May 2009
Source: Labradorian, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2009 The Labradorian
Author: Jenny McCarthy
Bookmark: (Incarceration)Source: Northern 
Pen (CN NF)
Copyright: 2009 Northern Pen
Author: Aaron Beswick
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Dealing With Crime-Drug Link

According to Correctional Services Canada, 80 per cent of federal prisoners 
in Canada have substance abuse problems.

Although the Labrador Correctional Center is a provincial correctional 
facility, corrections worker Allison Hagerty said she would estimate the 
figure to be similar in the local prison.

This year she is the officer in charge of running a National Substance 
Abuse Program for inmates at the center. She said the experience so far 
seems to be a positive one and people taking the course seem to be learning 
from it.

"The goal is to teach them the skills to help them deal with their 
substance abuse problems," she said.

According to Statistics Canada, offenders who experience substance abuse 
problems and employment instability are at greater risk of engaging in 
criminal behavior than offenders who do not present these types of problems.

Studies carried out by Correctional Services Canada show that more than 70 
per cent of those under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both said they 
would not have committed their most serious crimes had they not been under 
the influence.

Although there are few services for substance abusers once they leave the 
Labrador Correctional Center, Ms. Hagerty said the program is designed to 
help them make better decisions and choices in the future and manage their 
own substance abuse. One element of the training deals with relapse and 
high-risk situations and how they are dealt with. The program is based on 
the idea that if substance abuse is a learned behavior, then methods of 
coping can also be learned.

"Substance abuse has led them to crime somehow," she said.

Right now there are nine inmates at the Labrador Correctional Center who 
are taking part in the course. The program takes seven weeks to complete 
and is made up of 26 sessions- 25 as a group and 1 as individuals.

The program is a nationwide program that began in federal penitentiaries 
across the country. It is a joint project in the Labrador Correctional 
Center between Correctional Services Canada and the provincial department 
of justice, as it is a provincial prison.

A classification officer at the Center identities the inmates who meet the 
criteria for the course and the inmates are given the choice to 
participate. In order to participate, the crime for which the person is 
convicted has to be linked to alcohol and drugs. This doesn't necessarily 
mean the person had to be selling or buying drugs. Ms. Hagerty explained 
that it could be the case that someone was using alcohol or drugs when 
committing a crime or that the substances could be the motivation behind 
the criminal activity.

It is the forth year for the program to be offered to inmates at the 
Labrador Correctional Center.

Ms. Hagerty said the effectiveness rate of the program is hard to estimate 
on a local basis because of the resources it would require, but studies 
done on a national level show that those who participated in the national 
substance abuse program were 50 percent less likely to re-offend.

Ms. Hagerty said she hopes the program will continue running on a regular 
basis as it not only helps the offender but also works toward public safety. 
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