Prison Treatment Program Axed

Inmates Lose Substance-abuse Counseling To Schaefer's Budget Cuts

October 30, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

SYKESVILLE — Officials of Junction Bridge Inc., a substance-abuse treatment program for prison inmates nearing release, were notified Friday that theywill have to close the program tomorrow due to budget cuts made by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

"We were told that our funding has been terminated as of Nov. 30," said Sondra Tranen, director of clinical services for Junction Bridge. "Oct. 31 will be the last treatment day for clients. After that, we will be closing down and laying off counselors and administrators."

The private, non-profit organization had a contract with the state to provide alcohol- and drug-abuse treatment to inmates at the Central Laundry Camp here, the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown and the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup.

The group employed 23 full-time and nine part-time counselors, who provided a 12-week substance-abuse treatment program to some 2,000inmates annually.

Earlier in the month, Junction Bridge had been informed that its budget would be cut when Schaefer trimmed $12 million from drug- and alcohol-treatment programs.

But the governor andstate legislators agreed to restore some funding, including $4.5 million to treatment programs, giving Junction Bridge some hope it wouldreceive enough money to remain open while seeking other sources of money.

"We made every effort to maintain the program," Tranen said."It was purely a political move (to close us)."

The program was funded through the state Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration. Mike Golden, public relations officer for the ADAA, said all of the state'streatment programs were hit by the budget cuts.

"The reasoning behind the cuts was that we felt we would give priority to the intermediate, or 28-day programs, that people take after detoxification," Golden said.

Junction Bridge's fiscal 1992 budget of $796,000 was reduced by $467,000, Golden said. The remaining $329,000 will have been spent between July 1, when the fiscal year began, and Nov. 30, when the program officially closes.

Tranen said the group would keep itsname and incorporated status for another year while administrators work voluntarily with the 11-member board of directors to try to get financing for the program.

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