Danville Sheriff's Office looking to implement rigorous new substance abuse program

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DANVILLE (WSLS10) - For future inmates in the Danville Jail struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, help may be on the way.

"An intensive drug treatment program that's in-house; in the jail," said Danville Sheriff Mike Mondul, describing the new substance abuse program he is hoping to implement.

The Danville Sheriff's Office has asked city council to approve using $50,000 of its budget in the upcoming fiscal year to pay for a coordinator to work in the jail and help inmates with substance-abuse issues.

Sixteen inmates at a time would stay in an isolated dorm in the jail and have eight to nine hour daily sessions with the coordinator for 120 days during their incarceration.

Currently, a substance abuse counselor only visits the jail once a week. With roughly 250 inmates and about 80 percent of them in jail for some type of drug-related charge, Mondul said the weekly visits are simply not enough and this program is needed in order to make a dent in the recidivism rate.

"It's been in Roanoke for 22 years and it seems to have a positive effect," Mondul pointed out.

Gene Smith is a substance abuse counselor in Danville who has worked with inmates before and said programs like this often have good success and he congratulates the sheriff's office for trying to implement the program.

"Gradually, the [federal and state] funds have dried up for substance abuse treatment," Smith said. "Not everybody's going to get clean, but you do have a good percentage that will get clean and without offering that it's really hard."

If the program is implemented, it would be up to the judge at each sentencing to decide whether a person will have the option of entering the program.

Those who are currently incarcerated or get incarcerated before the program starts would have to go before a judge and have their sentence adjusted to allow them to participate.