Georgia Department of Corrections
James E. Donald, Commissioner
Director of Public Information
Contact: Office of Public Affairs (404) 656-9772
For Immediate Release
Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Corrections announced today it will begin implementing a strategy to address the growing methamphetamine epidemic in Georgia. “We continually evaluate options within the state correctional system for addressing emerging crime patterns, and rapidly growing trends in methamphetamine are repeatedly revealed, most notably in the Northwest Georgia area,” says Commissioner James E. Donald. He adds that, because of this trend, there has been great demand for ways to expand the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment option specifically for probationers. The Department currently operates two of these Treatment programs, one in Bainbridge and one on the campus of Lee Arrendale State Prison. This new strategy will allow the Department to establish the first male Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program in North Georgia.
As part of the strategy, the Department also announced it will close the Rome Diversion Center, effective August 15, 2008. The Center initially opened in 1974 under the name of Rome Restitution Center, and became known as the Rome Diversion Center in 1980. It has served as an alternative for housing probationers while they hold gainful employment in the community for the purpose of paying restitution, fines, fees and other court ordered monies.
There are currently twenty-six employees working at the Center, each of whom will be offered positions within the Department. Commissioner Donald stresses, “In our planning, it has been top priority to ensure there is no loss of jobs.” In addition, future plans include the possibility of housing both the Rome Day Reporting Center and Probation Office in the vacated state-owned building.
While Diversion Centers have proved useful in the past, their effectiveness has declined in recent years, as they were not designed to address substance abuse treatment. When the Rome Diversion Center opened in 1974, there were approximately 15,000 probationers, compared to more than 150,000 today, and the prison population was 9,776, compared to nearly 60,000 today.
“Our mission of protecting and serving the public by effectively managing offenders will not be compromised as we implement this strategy and act as good stewards of taxpayer funds,” Donald adds.
For more information on Georgia’s growing methamphetamine trend, visit www.dcor.state.ga.us/NewsRoom/Publications/ChooseFreedom_meth.html#, and click on “Georgia’s Methamphetamine Epidemic.”
The Department of Corrections is the fifth largest prison system in the United States and is responsible for supervising nearly 60,000 state prisoners and over 150,000 probationers. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with approximately 15,000 employees.