Lee County, Illinois, Sees Falling Drug Addiction and Crime with “Safe Passage” Program
Lee County, Illinois created their own version of the ANGEL program started by the Sheriff’s Department in Gloucester, Mass. The Lee County program is called Safe Passage, and is very successful. Can it help you or someone you care about who has a drug problem?
Unfortunately, a lot of people who are found guilty of minor drug offenses – not huge amounts of drugs, not dealing them, not committing felony crimes to get them – find themselves coming out of jail in the same, or worse, condition as when they started their prison term.
To remedy this problem, several Sheriff’s Departments across the country, starting with the one in Gloucester, Mass., decided to help addicts instead of putting them in jail.
All they have to do is go to a local Sheriff’s office, turn in their drugs, and ask for treatment. They’ll get it, and they won’t go to jail as long as they complete the program.
In Lee County the Safe Passage program has been running for about a year and a half and the county has seen a 12 percent drop in the jail population for drug crimes and crimes like theft and burglary, which are often associated with drugs.
The Sheriff, John Simonton, said more than 140 people have gone through the program so far and they have about a 60 percent success rate. Success is defined as having completed the program, but the addicts have a ways to go yet. Now they have to stay straight.
What’s Needed to Make Sure The Rehab Graduates Stay off Drugs?
Sheriff Simonton says that the number of repeat offenders for drug crimes is also declining, but to make this program a real long-term success, he is now focusing his attention on helping the addicts once they get out of treatment.
“When they come back to their respective communities they need some assistance financially, whether it be through education, whether it be through trying to find a home, trying to find gainful employment and also following up on outpatient treatment facilities,” he explained in a press interview .
If the problems the graduates are likely to run into aren’t being addressed, there’s a good chance they could wind up addicted again, and facing another arrest.
But so far we have another winner with this program.
It must be a real relief to law enforcement to be doing something that works instead of just putting people in jail, where they get no help, and often wind up back in jail again. It’s like housework – the job is never really done.
Congratulations to the whole department and everyone who’s participating.