- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2001

The Justice Department yesterday awarded more than $58 million in grant money to states and the District of Columbia for substance abuse treatment programs for offenders at state and local correctional facilities.

Grants of $1.32 million went to Virginia, $1.09 million to Maryland and $470,000 to the District.

"The link between drugs and crime is clear and unmistakable," said Attorney General John Ashcroft, adding that when offenders return to society drug-free, they are 73 percent less likely to commit more crimes and return to prison, and 44 percent less likely to use drugs again.

"The Justice Department is committed to breaking the cycle of drugs and crime," he said.

With the new grants, coordinated through the Justice Department´s Office of Justice Programs, more than $288 million has been awarded to states and territories since 1996 through the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) for State Prisoners program.

In 1999, more than 80 percent of all jail and state prison inmates said they previously used drugs, while 60 percent admitted having regularly used drugs as least once a week over a three-month period.

States use RSAT funds to support individual or group treatment for offenders in residential facilities operated by state and local corrections agencies. Each offender´s treatment program lasts between 6 and 12 months, during which time the offender is regularly tested for drugs.

Justice Department spokesmen said the treatment facilities are set apart from other correctional facilities. RSAT-funded programs also work closely with community-based substance abuse treatment programs to ensure that offenders continue treatment, they said.

States and eligible territories received about $57.9 million in RSAT funds in 2000; $57.8 million in 1999; $59.3 million in 1998; $27.7 million in 1997; and $24.7 million in 1996.

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