By Mark Powell
An Alternative to Doing Time
In 2013, West Virginia was facing a serious problem. Incarceration costs were sky high and incarceration rates continued to rise. With no end in sight, the projected increase in prison populations meant a new prison was needed. The state recognized the increased rates of incarceration were not related to new offenses, but rather violations of community supervision, primarily due to substance use related issues. Rather than build a new prison, officials decided to implement Justice Reinvestment. The idea was the savings from reducing the cost incarceration would be reinvested in evidence-based treatment provided in community-based programs.
West Virginia native Ronda Eddy took Justice Reinvestment and ran with it. Fresh off of a 20-plus year career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, she was ready to jump in and help her home state. “I was retired and looking for something to keep me out of trouble,” says Ronda with a smile. “During my federal career, I had visited over 100 federal prisons, jails, and detention centers, at least once. I talked to a lot of inmates and heard their stories of sadness and hopelessness about how their incarceration for nonviolent offenses impacted their families. It never made sense to me separate non-violent offenders with substance use treatment needs from their families and communities when they could receive community-based treatment under supervision.”
So, Ronda helped establish the Jefferson Day Report Center, Inc. (JDRC) under the
guidance and support of the Jefferson County Criminal Justice Board. Opened in 2014, it is a community corrections program that provides treatment supervision to non-violent, justice involved individuals, whose crimes, for the most part, are rooted in substance use. The JDRC caseload are individuals referred from parole, Circuit Court, and Magistrate Court for treatment supervision. They work with a team of highly qualified medical and behavioral health professionals who address their individual treatment needs and provide wrap-around services to support re-entry and recovery.