Regional jail looking at drug treatment program

Russell Gilkison

FRONT ROYAL – Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison may finally have a chance at bringing in the intensive drug treatment program he has wanted.

Gilkison for months has been in talks with McShin Foundation, a nonprofit, full-service Recovery Community Organization for individuals and their families fighting substance abuse. He has wanted to add such a program since the jail opened.

“You are hoping if (addicts) are receiving treatment they will not return to the jail, which in turn down the road saves taxpayers money. You hope they will not go back to the habit of drugs, and thereby you make the community better,” Gilkison said.

Last week, McShin Foundation President John Shinholser called Gilkison. The foundation had been awarded a grant to use in jails that would cover costs for the program for three years, meaning no money would be pulled from the jail’s general fund.

“He asked if we would like to participate,” Gilkison said. “This is very exciting.”

Doug Stanley

No formal agreements have been made as talks are still in the preliminary stages with details to be determined and more information provided, he said. The program would complement services provided by Northwest Community Services.

Gilkison estimates at least 90 percent of people in the jail are there on a drug-related offense.

“That is the major driver of the inmate population, and so that is what you want to address to reduce the number of inmates,” Gilkison said. “But, it is not just an incarceration issue;  it is a community issue.”

Jail Authority Board Chairman Doug Stanley said he believes board members are receptive to the idea of creating a drug recovery program at the facility.

“Everyone realizes the toll that the opioid epidemic has had on society and the individuals currently or previously incarcerated at the facility,” Stanley wrote in an email.

“Anything that we can do, within our budget and personnel constraints, to combat this issue head-on will have the potential to lower the recidivism rate when inmates do get out and hopefully will point them in the direction to become more productive citizens.”