Pubdate: Thu, 15 Oct 1998
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 1998 The Hartford Courant
Author: Tom Condon


I recently described an experimental program that will allow doctors
to administer methadone to stabilized heroin addicts.

Lou Sorrentino, a drug counselor in New Britain, said the law that
created the program also allows the state Department of Correction to
begin methadone treatment for inmates.

But he said the department doesn't do so (except to help detox
pregnant female inmates), and he thinks it should.

Dr. Brett Rayford, the department's medical director, said the DOC
studied the question last year, and concluded that it would be a
security risk. ``Why introduce heroin in an environment where addicts
can't get opiates? We use a drug-free model,'' he said.

However it's done, there needs to be more drug treatment in prisons.
Here and across the country, about 80 percent of inmates need
substance abuse treatment, but only 12 percent receive it. Treatment
is humane and cost-effective. If it works, addicts won't have to
steal for drug money and won't be sent back to jail.

In a column about the state police, I questioned whether the
department needed 200 more troopers, saying they make a small
percentage of the state's criminal arrests. Public safety Commissioner
Henry Lee responded that his department performs crime scene analysis
and other services in many cases where the local department makes the
arrest. Fair point.

I said the push for more troopers was driven by sprawl, by people
moving to rural areas. Scott R. Schuett, a volunteer firefighter in
Lebanon, says it's the people moving from the big cities who are
demanding more services.

``They say, `We had this in Hartford.' . . . `Fine,' we tell them.
`Move back to Hartford . . . or wherever you came from. We do not have
the financial resources to provide the services you looked forward to
in larger cities.' ''

Schuett is right. Government cannot efficiently deliver services in
large areas with low population density. We can't put a cop on every
corner in Lebanon. People who want garbage pickup, tennis, French
classes, etc., ought to move to cities.

A legal defense fund has been started for former Hartford Public High
School football star DeShawn Jennings, who faces carjacking charges
later this month.

``It would be a crime to put that kid in jail and a waste of the
taxpayers' money. He's turned his life around,'' said Ed Gaffney,
executive director of The Work Bank Inc., a nonprofit work agency
where Jennings has worked for the past year. People interested can
make a check out to The Work Bank, 192 Wawarme Ave., Hartford, CT 06114.

I reported that the Connecticut Institute for the Blind/Oak Hill
signed a contract more than two years ago to buy a house on the corner
of my street. The institute still hasn't bought it, because the
government program from which it's getting the money, Section 811, is
so complex.

New Jersey Congressman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen agrees. He sent me a
transcript of this year's HUD budget hearings, in which he blistered
HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo over the failure to disburse money for
housing for the disabled. Frelinghuysen said only $2.5 million of an
available $90 million had been disbursed "because the process is so
damn complicated."

"Hartford's Sec. 811 problems are far from unique," the congressman
said. He sent my column to Cuomo, but the house on my street remains
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Checked-by: Patrick Henry