New Substance Abuse Treatment Center for Female Probationers

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A longstanding lament of the corrections community in North Carolina has been the lack of a residential substance abuse treatment center for female probationers and parolees. In other words, there is no DART-Cherry for women. (DART stands for Drug Alcohol Recovery Treatment.) DART-Cherry, for those who may not know, is a 300-bed facility in Goldsboro that offers chemical dependency treatment services for probationers and for certain parolees upon their release from prison. There are two program tracks at DART-Cherry, a 28-day program and a 90-day program. A third of the beds at the facility are dedicated to the 28-day program, which is geared primarily toward impaired driving offenders. The remaining 200 beds are devoted to the 90-day program which, for Structured Sentencing purposes, is a “residential program” under G.S. 15A-1340.11(8). That means it may only be ordered as a probation condition at initial sentencing for those sentenced to intermediate punishment. It may also be added later for community-sentenced offenders once they have violated probation. G.S. 15A-1344(a). You can learn more about DART-Cherry—and many other local and state-wide community corrections programs—in the North Carolina Sentencing Commission’s outstanding annual Compendium of Community Corrections Programs, authored by David Lagos of the Commission staff. Attorneys and judges thinking about DART-Cherry placement for certain defendants might also want to review DOC’s criteria for client appropriateness for the program to make sure the defendant is eligible.

Many people thought it was a shame that there was no analogous program for women—especially when DOC data show that a particularly high percentage of females in the correctional system are in need of substance abuse treatment. Some thought it was more than just a shame; more than once I’ve heard people wonder out loud if the lack of a program for women violated the Equal Protection Clause.

Recent news from the Department of Correction has made that question an academic one. Early March memos from the Secretary of Correction and the Director of the Division of Community Corrections have announced the impending opening of the Black Mountain Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Center for Women. According to the announcements, the center will offer a program similar to the 90-day program at DART-Cherry. It is scheduled to open in early April, gradually filling to its 50-bed capacity by the end of spring. Contact numbers are available in the linked memos if you need additional information.

To the extent that the programming at Black Mountain is similar to that at DART-Cherry, I imagine that time spent there will likewise qualify as “confinement” under G.S. 15-196.1, and will thus count for credit against a suspended sentence. State v. Lutz, 177 N.C. App. 140 (2006) (also discussed here).

On an unrelated note, thank you to all of you who posted comments or sent emails in response to my recent post on restitution to government agencies. You gave me exactly the type of information I was looking for, and I’m working on a short paper that will hopefully answer your questions.

9 comments on “New Substance Abuse Treatment Center for Female Probationers

  1. First the facility is too far for someone with a substance abuse problem to even consider if they have children as most females do. Revamp DART/Cherry and allow females to attend the program there as it is a central location. Second, ’28 Day DART’ is a waist offenders need 120 day options to even have a small impact if any.

    • I can appreciate concerns for female offenders with children having to be removed from their families to attend treatment. However, Black Mountain, like DART, is a court-ordered residential treatment program. Those offenders that have not been successful in treatment programs within their community would benefit from intensive therapy (28 or 90 days). Therefore, in choosing this option, distance from family is not the chief concern.

      My hope is that officers, District Attorneys and Judges will work together to determine the apprpiateness of Black Mountain as a sanction. As we are moving to Evidence-Based Practice, an individualized approach is necessary to ensure that an offender sanctioned to Black Mountain will recieve the most benefit from this type of program (this is assuming that Black Mountain will offer high-quality treatment).

  2. I work at the Black Mountain Substance Abuse Treatment Center for Women & it has turned out to be a wonderful asset to our female probationers & parolees. I feel that I must respond to both of these posts since I have first-hand knowledge of our facility. Families have found ways to bring the residents’ children to visit from across the state when possible (some only can make one visit, some none at all). Our residents are able to make phone calls to family members with the help of counselors and social workers if the families are not able to visit. For some, it is best that family not visit.
    As for the comment about Black Mountain offering high-quality treatment. Our facility’s counselors are unbelievable. They have personal investment in this program & the entire staff is passionate about what we do. We continue to receive letters and cards from graduates telling us how we helped change their lives, and that they are not certain they would be alive without our program. Many of our residents have been able to regain custody of their children after completing the program, and they continue to send photos of their children. I feel incredibly honored to be a part of something that this state has needed for so long and feel that it is going to change the way that women are processed through the legal system.

    • My daughter is on the wait list for this facility..I was wondering if you are looking for volunteers to help in any way. There are far too few facilities and beds available, as drug use and abuse has run so rampant in our society. Please inform me if there is any type of outside volunteers to help with the process

  3. I THINK ITS WRONG TO JUST SEND SOMEONE WITH LITTLE NOTICE THAT HAVE CHILDREN. I WAS ORDERED TO GO NAND HAVE NO FAMILY TO WATCH MY 1 YEAR OLD SON. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? JENNIFER

    • I guess you will do whatever you wouldve had to do, had you been sent to prison……deal with it and work it out. At least this way you do have some time in advance to set things up (im guessing this because you have internet access) Now had you gone tp prison you wouldve done just that, went straight to prison. You should be thankful the state is willing to pay for you to learn about your addiction, instead of falling through the cracks and repeating past mistakes.It may seem “inconvenient” now, but it may very well save your life, AND keep your son in it. Ive been in and out of jails, institutions, rehabs and detoxes, and in 19 years this is the only program that has worked. Black Mountain is truly a blessing!!!! NOT an inconvenience.

  4. I think this program is absolutely necessary. I’m Justin and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic. For the longest time I would not admit that I had a problem with drinking. Within the span of five years I managed to get multiple charges including driving under the influence, public intoxication and assault. Waking up in a hospital handcuffed to the bed rails didn’t make me think twice about what I was doing. In the midst of this pure madness, the disease of alcoholism blinded me to the fact that the drink was the cause of my misery. I blamed others, not myself. Co-workers and friends would try to convince me, to no avail. I currently have three years sober and it is due to the fact that I was finally able to concede to my inner most self that I was truly an alcoholic. Eventually I found a sponsor in the program of Alcoholic Anonymous and have since worked the steps multiple times. Alcoholic Anonymous has saved my life and I am forever grateful to this program.

  5. I recently was put in this B.S. program. This is a last resort to not go to prison. However, I got out on probation and still ended up in prison. Plus, they treat you like mental patients, when all we are are regular people who just messed up. Screw Black Mountain.

  6. This was a great experience for me at the BMSATCW. I met women with alot of simularities to what i have went thru with my life. I know now i was not alone. Thanks for the help from the greatful staff. I was there back in 2012. It was an experience i will never forget. Thanks.

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