Changing futures |

Changing futures

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A piece of 2003 state legislation has saved Colorado money on prison spending and increased funding for community-based drug treatment, said Chief Probation Officer Shawnee Barnes.

The legislative effort, Senate Bill 318, was aimed at reducing certain prison sentences to provide the extra funding.

Some of the funding from the bill going to the 9th Judicial District’s Probation Department has been spent on a contract with Roaring Fork Counseling Center, Barnes said. The judicial district covers Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.

The contract with the counseling center this year was $48,000. It pays for more specialized treatment for people on probation at the highest risk of going to jail or prison. Funds go toward counseling and other services for people on intensive supervised probation, people in drug court, and the newer female offender program and pathways curriculum.

The probation department refers people into these programs who could use the extra help.

“It’s an extra tool for the highest risk offenders,” Barnes said.

Counselor John Romero said, “The idea is to give them treatment in the community so their behaviors don’t escalate to the point where they’ll have to go to a facility.”

Pathways is a substance abuse and criminal behavior treatment program for juveniles that’s been active in the judicial district since July 2007 and has about 14 clients. So far, no one has failed out of the program, Romero said.

Romero has been a counselor in the area for years but started his own business, the Roaring Fork Counseling Center, in January.

The female offender program focuses on women. It seeks to address things like self-esteem, issues caused by abuse, living as a single mother and child care issues.

“If you don’t take care of the relationships and those things they won’t stop using (drugs or alcohol),” Barnes said. “For the first time we don’t just treat them as all the same criminal population.”

The programs involve counseling and activities to help people learn how to socialize without drugs or alcohol and learn successful life skills. For example, teenagers in pathways, people in the female offender program and drug court clients just finished trail repair work at Rifle Falls on Monday, Barnes said. There have also been things like rope courses to learn about trust and rafting trips to learn about cooperation.

The four programs had an 87 percent success rate last year, meaning that portion of people either successfully finished treatment or didn’t fail and get sent to community corrections or prison, Barnes said.

The figure is significantly higher than the rate for adult clients on regular probation.

Last year in Colorado, 56 percent of adults on regular probation successfully finished

without skipping town or getting their probation revoked.

The pathways curriculum used by probation is not to be confused with the Pathways Adolescent Recovery program that was founded around a year ago. That outpatient treatment center for adolescent substance abuse, across from Valley View Hospital, recently changed its name to the Red Mountain Adolescent and Family Center due to confusion from the similar names.

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