PREVIEW: Addiction treatment at the women’s prison

Investigates

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — With 60 percent of women in South Dakota’s prisons behind bars for drugs, you’d think the first line of defense to return them back to society would be treating their addiction. 

But KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke has found that isn’t the case. 

We’ve followed one inmate’s story in 2019. Jessica Pfau is an opioid addict who overdosed and nearly died. She was not offered a treatment program while in prison, although she could attend AA and NA meetings. 

Now two former Women’s Prison employees have stepped forward to say the problems started years ago as the number of licensed addiction counselors in the prison was cut. 

“We did have nine. We had a very good program that was running. We were able to run 40 hours a week. We had three groups in the IMT. We were running three groups in main and we were doing well with keeping the women in and out of groups..  We had a great team,” A licensed addiction counselor and former women’s prison employee said. 

But now there are fewer than half as many addiction counselors and KELOLAND News has learned that current mental health counselors are on their way out. 

Angela investigates the “Growing treatment gap” Friday night at 10. 

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