Ep. 94 – Preparing Inmates for Outpatient Treatment after Prison: John Wetzel, PA Corrections

Greg interviews John Wetzel, Secretary of Corrections at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Secretary Wetzel helped found a pilot program that combats substance abuse among inmates through the administration of Vivitrol – a medication that reduces drug cravings and blocks the “high” many users feel while under the influence. Initially implemented at SCI Muncy, a women’s prison, the program has now expanded to 11 other prisons in Pennsylvania.

Greg asks Secretary Wetzel how the program goes beyond Vivitrol usage by providing linkage to the community for recovering inmates. Secretary Wetzel explains that the program also offers transitional housing units, so the inmates can go to a prison close to home during the last year of their treatment. He explains how these units not only provide medication and counseling, but also help equip inmates with the tools to function outside of prison. “We prep them for outpatient treatment,” says Secretary Wetzel. “It’s both a combination of medication assisted treatment with therapy and supervisions and case management… as well as developing resumes and doing job fairs. We wanted to create this parallel universe where everything was focused on how you were going to be successful when you get out.”

Listen to the podcast to discover how this program has changed the lives of a myriad of recovering convicts and greatly added in the reduction of relapses.

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