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Federal funding cut brings end to drug rehab program

Staff Report • Apr 5, 2012 at 8:26 AM

You can always count on the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., to drop the ball when it comes to supporting law enforcement programs that really make a difference. Take for example a residential treatment program that helps jail inmates kick their drug addictions and take responsibility for their actions.

Residential Substance Abuse Treatment, or RSAT, had been a stable program at the Washington County Detention Center for nearly 12 years. Sheriff Ed Graybeal said 300 inmates have successfully completed the program. They are 300 former prisoners who, if they stay clean and sober, will most likely never return to the Detention Center.

RSAT has been so successful that Criminal Court Judges Lynn Brown and Robert Cupp have had a long-standing policy that if an inmate graduated from the intensive yearlong program, they “earned their way out” of jail. And as Press staff writer Becky Campbell reported in Tuesday’s paper, the judges even made a point to shake the hands of inmates who have successfully completed the program.

That’s because the judges know that inmates who can shake their drug and alcohol addictions are less likely to be seen in their courts again. RSAT has been a cost effective and successful program for reducing recidivism, but apparently that’s not good enough for pencil pushers in Washington. The Feds have cut funding for RSAT. It’s the kind of short-sighted move we’ve come to expect from the federal government.

Without the $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice to pay for the program, Graybeal has been forced to end RSAT.

We would hope the Feds will reconsider and restore this vital program. Failure to do so will leave Washington County officials with just two options: Fund RSAT with local tax dollars or end the program for good. The latter could prove to be a more costly option, since their continued substance abuse will land many released inmates right back in jail.

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