Rutland copes with incarceration-addiction cycle - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rutland copes with incarceration-addiction cycle

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RUTLAND, Vt. -

"When you get into that sense of hopelessness and frustration, that is when people might relapse and turn back to drugs," said Keith Tallon, the Vt. Dept. of Corrections Rutland district manager of probation and parole. He says re-adjusting to life after prison can be difficult, but for former inmates with drug addictions it's even harder, and relapse is on the rise.
     
Of nearly 200 offenders released since January, 47-percent returned to prison as a result of substance abuse. Tallon says one of the main issues is lack of treatment on the inside."The big issue is bed availability, and there is a lot of competition due to the seriousness of the drug problem in the state at this time, so it sometimes can be up to four months before we can get an offender into treatment," Tallon said.

With a long wait-list for treatment behind bars, many inmates are released before they kick their addictions. Tallon says sometimes when addicts relapse, corrections will put them back in jail in an effort to get them help.

"Many times people are at the moment to accept treatment when they are arrested. Well, it's not available right now," said Rutland City Police Chief James Baker.

Baker says the lack of treatment for offenders is far-reaching, and the quality of life in the city. Baker says thefts continue to be the top crime in the city. Whether an individual hooked on opiates is shoplifting downtown, or stealing money from family members, Baker says these addictions tear the community apart. "We're not necessarily looking at violent criminals because we don't have a high number of violent criminals in the community. We have criminals that do a great deal of harm to our community as a result of their addiction," Baker said.

Baker says the police department has been working closely with corrections to increase supervision for individuals deemed most likely to re-offend, but he says hooking addicts up with services is the only way to work toward a long term solution. "I'm not sure we will ever have the answer to that, but the fact of the matter is, we have to get better at delivering treatment closer to the time the person feels they are at rock bottom," Baker said.
 
Both Baker and Tallon say the methadone clinic scheduled to open in Rutland in November will bring individuals with addictions one step closer to recovery.

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