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Peer support initiative in county justice system wins national honor

June 17, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A jail diversion program that was launched four years ago under a partnership between the Caroline County, Va., Commonwealth Attorney's Office and the McShin Foundation will be honored with an Achievement Award next month from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The Recovery Community Program targets offenders with substance use problems in the mainly rural county and offers them a year of support that centers around the peer support of a recovery coach mentor.

The program, originally underwritten in full by the McShin Foundation, a recovery community organization, has begun receiving county government funding as of fiscal year 2015. Individuals generally enter the program as first-time charged offenders or under terms of bond release; successful completion in those cases will result in dropped charges or a plea agreement with no jail time.

The Recovery Community Program is a day reporting program that involves multiple weekly 12-Step support meetings, life skills training, and the pairing of each participant with a sponsor. A 2014 study of the program stated that the initiative had saved more than $220,000 in regional jail costs for just one 21-person class of participants that was analyzed.

NACo is honoring the Recovery Community Program in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety category of its Achievement Awards, with a formal presentation to take place at its annual conference July 10-13 in Mecklenburg County, N.C.

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