Feds Cutting Prison Drug Rehab Funds

Illegal Drugs
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A $7 million federal budget cut will leave Nevada prisons with no treatment programs for inmates with alcohol or drug addiction problems by mid-2004, state officials say.

Gov. Kenny Guinn and state Prisons Director Jackie Crawford cited public safety concerns and pleaded with Nevada's congressional delegation for help in restoring Residential Substance Abuse Treatment grants. Nevada got $616,138 for the program last year.

But Tessa Hafen, spokeswoman for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., told the Las Vegas Review-Journal it was too late to rescue the money in the 2004 spending measure.

Guinn said the prison system's treatment programs save millions of dollars by treating inmate drug addictions and keeping prisoners from returning to jail. More than 1,500 inmates have gone through the programs, which have a 78 percent success rate, Crawford said.

Money for the Justice Department grant program was stripped from a year-end spending measure the House passed Dec. 8. The Senate will consider the bill in January.

John Scofield, spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, said the money was cut to help close a $480 billion federal budget deficit and because a similar program is run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

But Crawford said Nevada gets no money from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. She said up to 90 percent of Nevada's prisoners have drug or alcohol problems, and are currently treated by two programs funded 75 percent by federal dollars and 25 percent by inmate welfare funds. There are no state general funds for the programs.

The northern Nevada program is called Willing Inmates in Nevada Gaining Sobriety, or WINGS. The southern Nevada program is Offenders Actions in Solidarity to Insure Sobriety, or OASIS.

Crawford said funding for those programs will end within six months.