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April 2, 2001
Contact: Tracy Little

New program started for chemically addicted women inmates

RALEIGH - Before a structured day of treatment, the residents of the Last Alternative Therapeutic Community of Hope (LATCH) get pumped up by singing, dancing and sharing with others their favorite quote, person and color for the day. The goal of the newly created LATCH program at North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women is to treat chemically addicted participants holistically.

"The program is designed to treat not only their disease, but also their criminal behavior," said Program Director Ruth Taylor. "We have identified special clients in need of specific modalities of treatment."

There are currently 34 residents assigned to LATCH for a period of nine to 15 months. The Division of Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Programs has referred them to the program. The residents undergo extensive daily treatment in a residential setting that first focuses on their addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. The participants are housed together in an area thatís separated from other inmates at the prison. In the therapeutic community atmosphere, the inmates live and work together striving to help each other reach their individual goals.

LATCH is a five-phase process comprised of interrelated phases that correspond to a residentís progress. The phases are introduction to the program, main treatment, preparation for re-entry into society, pre-release and post-release.

Each resident is also assigned job functions to help her learn to assume responsibility and good work habits. "I have to be able to walk what I talk," said Inmate Sandra Thompson. While assigned to LATCH, Thompson has earned the job of senior coordinator. She supervises the residentsí activities and then reports back to the counselors. "Everybody wants my job, but you have to avoid having any rules violations at all." Other jobs include chief expeditor, the person who calls to order and closes meetings; the telephone striver, the person who organizes inmate phone use; and the journalism striver, the editor of the programís newsletter.

A similar 90-day program is also available to inmates at Fountain Correctional Center for Women in Rocky Mount. Participants at Fountain are also housed in the therapeutic community setting. However, the treatment program is streamlined because the facility typically houses women who have a short time left on their prison sentences.


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