Oct. 28, 2020
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — Last week, United States Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger announced an award of nearly $1.2 million in federal grant money to Chesterfield County’s category one comprehensive opioid, stimulant and substance abuse site-based program, Helping Addicts Recover Progressively (HARP). The grant is part of over $14 million awarded to local governments, state agencies and non-profit organizations the Eastern District of Virginia last week. It is also a part of the Building Bridges Initiative, which Chesterfield County became one of 15 localities – and the only locality in Virginia – to join in 2019.
According to Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard, the grant will be used to bolster the HARP program by strengthening the county’s resources for those suffering from addiction.
“This grant will greatly enhance the Sheriff’s Office HARP Program with additional mental health resources, a more robust medication-assisted treatment program (MAT) and a larger array of wrap-around services for participants after their release,” said Leonard. “The grant will help support a range of these services, including Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services, the Chesterfield Community Services Board, Chesterfield Drug Court, transition housing, employment opportunities and continued MAT.”
HARP is an intensive and demanding recovery program designed to address addiction of all substances. The program utilizes myriad therapeutic, medical and educational approaches to offer people suffering from addiction the options and tools that best fit their recovery path.
Said Leonard, “In HARP, we accept the fact that addiction is a disease and not a crime. Participants may have made some poor decisions in their lives that were based on the force of their addiction. We hold that these are not bad people who want to be good, but rather sick people who wish to well.”
HARP is a voluntary program, and applicants must be committed to living a clean, sober life. After applying, applicants undergo a thorough screening process that examines their addiction, as well as their determination to overcome that addiction.
A 2019 independent study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs determined that HARP is effective in helping save lives and reduce recidivism. It noted, in part, that graduates of the program “are less likely to be arrested post release as compared to non-HARP graduates.”
“The VCU study was able to show HARP is saving lives, and that was just with the resources provided by the county and the state,” said Leonard. “With this grant, we will be able to expand our program and help even more people struggling with the disease of addiction and save even more lives.”
For more information about federal grant funds recently awarded to help combat the addiction crisis in the Eastern District of Virginia, read the full announcement from the office of U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger.
For more information about Chesterfield’s efforts to help those struggling with drug addiction in the county, visit the Sheriff’s Office webpage and the County Opioid Response webpage.
Helping Addicts Recover Progressively (HARP) Grant Objectives:
Objective 1: Expand and enhance MAT in the Chesterfield County Jail.
Over the last year, the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office has worked to develop a robust in-custody MAT program to complement existing jail-based treatment and recovery support services. This began as a pilot project and continues to expand. With funding through this grant, Chesterfield County will add a part-time nurse practitioner who is X-waivered to the medical team operating within the Chesterfield County Jail and support the cost of medication. The nurse practitioner will assist with evaluating new patients, maintaining a schedule of medication dispensing, monitoring patients and following up with labs. Inmates eligible for MAT will be identified during booking and follow-up medical assessments. We anticipate serving up to 25 new inmates per year for a total of 75 inmates over the life of the program.
Objective 2: Expand specialized pretrial supervision services for individuals at high risk for overdose.
A large number of defendants with opioid use disorders are placed on pretrial supervision, which presents a unique opportunity for the Sheriff’s Office to connect these individuals with treatment and recovery services. A full-time pretrial officer will be added to the Sheriff’s Office to supervise a specialized caseload of individuals whose screening and assessment results indicate they are at high risk for overdose. It is anticipated that this officer will maintain a caseload of 40 to 60 individuals at any given time. This officer will be familiar with the treatment and recovery services available in the Richmond metro area so they can make appropriate referrals and will also work closely with the Chesterfield County Jail to ensure that any in-custody treatment is coordinated as the individual transitions to the jail. This officer will also work closely with the courts and prosecutors to respond to pretrial violations in a therapeutic manner. Funding for drug testing is requested to monitor sobriety.
Objective 3: Expand and enhance reentry-based services to inmates in the Chesterfield County Jail, including providing support for transitional or recovery housing.
In addition to expanding MAT, we are seeking to add a case manager and a senior clinician to expand reentry services in the Chesterfield County Jail. The case manager will be responsible for case management and referrals to assist inmates who are preparing to leave the jail and transition to community-based treatment. In total, 100 inmates will receive reentry case planning each year for a total of 300 inmates over the life of the project. Inmates who lack safe, drug-free housing will be referred to the jail’s re-entry coordinator, who will serve as the access point for transitional or recovery housing to be provided via the discharge planning process occurring at the jail. Funding has been requested to support short-term housing (deposit and the first 30 days of rent) for 22 inmates each year for a total of 66 inmates over the life of the grant. The senior clinician will conduct clinical assessments in-custody, provide behavioral health treatment, establish a post-release treatment plan and work with the case manager to coordinate post-release appointments so that care is uninterrupted.
Objective 4: Engage a research partner to assist with program evaluations.
The research partner will support the work conducted under this project by assisting with developing the protocol for data collecting, establishing a framework for evaluating the county’s efforts and preparing an annual evaluation report suitable for dissemination.