Prison Population Under Control in Bradford County – Board Makes Strides in Treatment of Addiction


A recent meeting of the Bradford County Prison Board revealed that initiatives to curb overpopulation and provide treatment for those entering the system addicted to opiates have been very effective. Participants included (above from back, left) President Judge Maureen Beirne, County Commissioner Ed Bustin, Deputy Warden Pete Quattrini, Commissioner Daryl Miller, Warden Don Stewart, District Attorney Dan Barrett, and (not pictured) Commissioner Doug McLinko.

Photo and Story by Rick Hiduk

At a meeting of the Bradford County Prison Board on Sept. 8, Warden Don Stewart commended Deputy Warden Pete Quattrini for developing a new format for the monthly Bradford County Correctional Facility (BCCF) report. Fellow board members agreed that the new document was streamlined and easy to understand. It was symbolic of a improvements to a judicial system that was once mired by overpopulation and drug-related issues.

That is not to say that BCCF has it easy. The supervised jail program, which keeps as many as 100 people at a time out of the jail system, takes a lot of time to manage. But it has worked as well as was hoped for when it was started three years ago.

That’s still 72 people that have to be supervised outside the prison,” Stewart said of the current number of people in the program. He attributes the success of the program to good communication (between everyone involved in the judicial process) and a meticulous screening.

If we don’t like them, we reject them,” Stewart remarked. On the other hand, he added, it prevents a large number of low-level offenders from spending any time in jail.

Judge Maureen Beirne noted that there are a number of criteria that have to be considered, including mental health. Nonetheless, she added, the program has also been found effective in getting low-level offenders with drug addictions into treatment programs more quickly.

The recommendations for supervised bail come from various departments. In the past month, for example, seven people were placed under supervised bail by the court, five at the district magistrate level, and two as domestic relations orders (DRO).

Prison population was down to 205 inmates as of Sept. 8, with the female wing maxed out at 41 women vying for 32 beds. The extra female inmates, Stewart related, are housed in a temporary dormitory. “Everybody has their own bed,” he stated. “We are in compliance.”

Commissioner Doug McLinko commended Beirne for working closely with Stewart to maintain the delicate balance of detainment and giving second chances. McLinko also credited Beirne for initiating the use of the drug Vivitrol within the prison system.

Known generically as extended-release naltrexone, the drug is injected monthly and suppresses both the cravings for and painful withdrawal from heroin and prescription pain medications. It is referred to technically as an opiate antagonist, which can block the effects of opiates by occupying the opiate receptors in the brain. It has been used since 2006 to help those addicted to alcohol and was approved in 2011 for use with those addicted to other drugs.

It blocks the ‘good feelings’ that a user is seeking,” District Attorney Dan Barrett explained.

It is not a cure, the board members cautioned. If someone on Vivitrol drinks or uses drugs, they are still impaired. They just don’t get the sensation of being drunk or high.

Probations Officer Justin Popovitch submitted a grant in August for a supply of Vivitrol to be procured by BCCF and made available to inmates with addictions.

We can’t require anyone to submit to it, but they can volunteer to try it,” said Beirne, who expects the drug to be available in a month.

You have to go through a very extensive checklist to qualify,” Commissioner Ed Bustin added.

The general consensus in Bradford County is that the use of Vivitrol in a controlled environment like prison puts the inmate that much closer to true recovery when released. Most people take the drug for about a year.

When it’s being used, the recidivism rate for those individuals goes down,” Bustin related.

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