Jessica’s journey update: Treatment in prison

Investigates

It’s a surprising but common risk of weight loss surgery. Patients who have gastric bypass surgery can transfer an addiction from food to drugs or alcohol.

That’s what happened in the case of Jessica Pfau.

We took you on Jessica’s journey earlier this month — from gastric bypass surgery to opioid and alcohol addiction — followed by multiple DWI charges, failed attempts at treatment and surviving an opioid overdose.


Our KELOLAND News investigation continues with what kind of help she will get now that she’s behind bars.

When we last saw Jessica Pfau, she was reporting to prison to serve out her sentence after violating her parole by using heroin laced with fentanyl and overdosing.

Jessica was sentenced to two years in prison for possession, ingestion, and her sixth DUI because she had been behind the wheel of car when she overdosed and was saved with Narcan.

Jessica being booked to serve sentence.

Angela Kennecke: Will you get treatment in prison?

Pfau: There is no treatment in prison; not in the women’s prison. They are really short on counselors.

According to the South Dakota Department of Social Services, which provides treatment programs in prison, only three of the five addiction counselor positions in the Women’s Prison are filled. Governor Kristi Noem told us 80 percent of women in prison are dealing with addiction.

“I don’t think we do enough in our prison system. If people are sitting there in prison, and not getting any help, I think we’re doing them a disservice,” Governor Kristi Noem said.

According to a national study, only 10 percent of inmates in state prisons get clinical drug treatment while they are behind bars.

Medically assisted treatment for opioid use disorder has been found to be most effective. But Pfau won’t be prescribed any medications to treat her addiction behind bars.

Pfau provided KELOLAND Investigates with her assessment by the Department of Socials Services made December 10. 

Pfau has not been recommended for an intensive 14 week, 42 session substance use treatment program.

Instead, she will get “Substance Use Aftercare Treatment:” a once-a week group meeting for eight weeks.

Pfau told us she understands there needs to be consequences, after she has continually broken the law. 

Pfau: I know there’s times where we can’t be in society; as addicts because we are going to harm ourselves or other people.

Angela Kennecke: Then where do we put you?

Pfau: I don’t know and that’s something I think is a really big issue because prison is not going to help an addict.

KELOLAND Investigates reached out to the Department of Social Services for comment.

All inmates, including Jessica, are assessed and treatment recommendations are based on the individual needs of the inmate utilizing the American Society of Addiction Medicine treatment criteria. All treatment recommendations follow the clinical guidelines for treatment outlined in the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Inmates are able to seek self-help groups such as AA as well as individual counseling services as needed in addition to the recommended treatment service. Due to confidentiality, specific information about Jessica’s treatment cannot be released.

Secretary Laurie Gill, SD Department of Social Services.

Governor Noem told us she is calling on the Department of Corrections to come up with a more comprehensive treatment plan and follow-up care once an inmate is released.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


 

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