Treatment facility will aid convicts

Local and state officials gathered in Augusta on Friday to celebrate the pending arrival of a center that will provide a rehabilitative alternative to prison for criminals who have violated probation.

The Augusta Day Reporting Center, opening in January, is designed as a drug and mental health treatment center for low-to-moderate risk offenders who shouldn't be re-incarcerated, said Commissioner James Donald of the Georgia Department of Corrections. The day center will house nearly 100.

"These are not the people we should be afraid of," Mr. Donald said. "They're robbing and writing bad checks to support their addiction. We shouldn't clog up the prison system with these people. It's proven to be successful."

A Georgia State University study showed that offenders who enter these centers have a 7 percent recidivism rate over a three-year period compared to 28 percent for those who don't.

Probationers will report to the center each day for a little more than a month to receive drug treatment, counseling and assistance with job placement, said Pam Gould, the center administrator.

In the second phase, probationers are required to be employed, sober and must be monitored by surveillance officers for two to six months. In the final phase, they are periodically drug tested for six months.

The first of Georgia's nine day reporting centers opened in 2000, said Katrinka Glass, the center's former administrator.

Ms. Glass, now the department's director of risk reduction services, said she's seen the success of these centers.

"The outcomes have been total transformation for those folks," Ms. Glass said. "They leave better people, who have changed that criminal thinking and dealt with their substance problem."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

AUGUSTA DAY REPORTING CENTER

- Targets high-need, low-to-moderate risk, primarily property crime offenders in cases that drug dependency is the true underlying factor
- Holds up to 100; will initially treat 15
- There are only nine day reporting centers in Georgia.