More than 500 Illinois inmates have volunteered to serve their sentences for nonviolent offenses at the Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center treatment program for meth addicts. Illinois started the national pilot program at the facility near East St. Louis in 2006. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says it is the first prison-based program to recognize what many treatment experts believe – that those trying to beat the highly addictive drug need special attention.
The program’s three-year contract expires in September. Its future is unclear in a state with severe budget woes. Meth addicts initially struggle with anxiety and paranoia, said Barbara Wedemeyer, a manager for the company that coordinates treatment at the prison. “They’re more challenging than the other groups to get to feel safe and to earn trust.” The Post-Dispatch tells the story of how one inmate made his way through the program.