Drugs & Crime

During the listening process over 350 people participated in small house meetings to share what they are most worried about in the community and in their lives. Many people shared stories about friends and family who have become entangled in addiction, crime, and abuse. Because of these experiences, our members voted to dedicate their efforts to tackling crime and drugs.

The Problem

+ Each year 3,150 individuals struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol in our regional jail. A majority of these inmates who are women are also survivors of sexual abuse or domestic violence.

+ A majority of crimes in our community have drugs or alcohol as a contributing factor. This is not merely an issue of enforcement, but of treatment.

+ For those who have been unsuccessful with outpatient treatment while living at home, residential treatment can be game-changing. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that residential treatment programs can be very effective, especially for those with more severe problems.

+ There are few options for men seeking residential treatment in town; for women, there are no local options. For women who have children, barriers are often so large that they won’t even consider treatment like this out of town. In the end this not only impacts their life, but the lives of their children.

+ According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one principle of effective treatment is that it must be readily available; this is not currently the case.

What We Recommend

We have adopted a long-term goal for our ministry: the creation of local residential treatment that has the capability to serve both men and women. We know that this is a great need, not only by hearing it from key agencies in the community, but from the experiences of our own membership.

About Residential Treatment

Residential Treatment is voluntary, intensive group and individual counseling in a sober environment that can treat substance abuse while addressing other problems like trauma and mental illness. This treatment is typically reserved for those with relatively long histories of addiction, crime, and difficulty with social skills.

Under Virginia law, treatment programs like this can be beneficial to criminal justice systems by allowing individuals to serve part of their sentence in treatment rather than in jail.

Some important elements of this care include:

  1. Trauma-informed care for survivors of traumas like domestic violence or sexual abuse
  2. Methods to track success of the program, measured by rates of graduation and placement into continued recovery programs after completion of residential treatment
  3. Strong transitions from the program that helps graduates to remain sober after leaving
  4. Separate treatment for men and women

Laying the Groundwork

There are many pieces that need to be moved into place to make this happen, and it will not be done in only one year. It will take a commitment to see that our neighbors have fair access to the treatment they need so that they might enjoy the abundant life God plans for them to have.

Design of such a program will take collaboration and leadership on a local level. A program like this would run under the authority of Region Ten Community Services Board. We know that the localities must be at the table when major planning decisions are made, especially regarding such urgent needs as this. City and County managing authorities are responsible for day-to-day operations, as well as fostering partnerships with the community and organizations in the community. Our goal is to set-up the right leaders to ensure that our brothers and sisters can get the care they need when they need it. We want to see everyone succeed.

Nehemiah Action Summary 2015

Responses to commitments we were seeking:

  1. Commitment to make a 3-year plan with (Charlottesville City, Albemarle County, and Region Ten) to increase local residential substance abuse treatment for both men and women
  • Robert Johnson, Region Ten Executive Director: YES
  • Mike Murphy, on behalf of the City Manager: ““like Albemarle County, we plan in 1 year funding cycles. The elected officials make those decisions. So can we commit to making a plan? Most certainly. Can we commit to the funding element of the plan? Not at this time”
  • Doug Walker, on behalf of the County Executive: will work to identify the needs according to the current gaps in substance abuse treatment with the City of Charlottesville and Region Ten
  1. Commitment to meet with the others within the next 30 days to begin developing the plan
  • Region Ten, City Manager, and County Executive offices: YES
  1. Commitment to send an initial outline of this plan to IMPACT leadership by September 1st, 2015
  • Region Ten, City Manager, and County Executive offices: YES
  1. Commitment to report to IMPACT membership on October 26th 2015 at our Annual Assembly
  • Region Ten, City Manager, and County Executive offices: YES

What has happened since the Nehemiah Action

  • Each decision-maker received a follow-up letter from our organization.
  • Service providers affirmed our initiative again at a roundtable about gaps in substance abuse treatment hosted by the Mental Health & Wellness Coalition on May 15th.The need for residential treatment (especially for women) was lifted up again and again by participants. During the question and answer period, a representative from Region Ten stood up to share the commitments that Robert Johnson, City and County made at the Nehemiah Action.
  • Our decision-makers will be meeting by June 1st to begin developing this plan.
  • We will be updating our membership at the Justice Ministry Celebration on June 8th at Ivy Creek UMC.
  • This fall we will be gathering more stories connected to substance abuse in the community, meeting with decision-makers, and building support for this among elected officials and other stakeholders.
  • Strategies regarding implementation of this plan will be further developed once we have seen their initial outline of the plan by September 1