A Prison Break -- back to society

Gregory Vellner

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Program at Bucks County, PA prison gets inmates back to realityUmanoide

Breaking out and back to the real world, thanks to Bucks County PA prison programUmanoide

Imprisoned drug addicts in Bucks County, PA have found hope in returning to society, says the Department of Corrections in marking a five-year recovery program that successfully treated hundreds of inmates.

The award-winning program -- H.O.P.E. (Helping Ourselves Prosper Eternally) -- enrolled 750 male inmates, with a combined total of 53,625 days of recovery.

“That’s like providing the entire jail, based on our current census, with treatment for 72 days,” said Michael Palumbo, Recovery Programs Manager, corrections department.

The recovery program, a collaborative project with the county Drug and Alcohol Commission Inc., gives participants “intensive substance abuse education and cognitive behavioral treatments,” according to the county. It’s housed in the medium security sector of the men’s community corrections center, which allows participants “to be free of outside influence and to live alongside like-minded people” focused on recovery.

The inmates enroll voluntarily and are offered multiple interventions, including Moral Reconation Therapy, a nationally recognized practice designed specifically for the criminal justice system, said program officials.

The program had 379 graduates, and had a recidivism rate of 40 percent, a figure below the national average of 71 percent.

A similar program for female inmates – H.E.A.R.T. (Healing, Empowering and Recovering Together) has been in use since March 2018. Both programs incorporate medication-assisted treatment, as well as post-release care administered through correction department managers.

Individuals can ask to participate, or be referred by the courts or case manager, said Palumbo. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania in 2019 recognized both programs with the Criminal Justice Best Practices Award.

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA
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