OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 News) – Weber County leaders are working to keep offenders struggling with mental health and addiction out of the system, after getting a million dollar grant from the U.S. Justice Department. It’s teaming up with the University of Cincinnati for the next four years, to train staff on helping inmates tackle drug habits, get mental health counseling and find jobs after their release.
Laura Andelin is the lead case manager for Weber County Sheriff’s Office. She says staff are being training on cognitive behavioral intervention based programs.
“Helping people correct criminal behavior, criminal activity and they have one focused on substance abuse,” said Andelin.
The new program will work with WARP, or the Weber Addiction Re-entry Program. Andelin believes this will help people make positive choices when they re-enter the community after doing time. She says most of the trainee’s are a part of the correctional staff.
“We have a really awesome administration now, that is really supportive of moving in this direction and making these changes, but at the same time, from corrections stand point, it’s a big shift in mentality,” said Andelin.
The Weber County Jail had four deaths just in 2020, two of the deaths were suicides and two others medical, according to Lt. Joshua Marigoni.
“We were running in full force before COVID hit, with COVID, COVID’s really put things behind a lot,” said Marigoni.
The pandemic is slowing the process of county programs and leaders consider this essential.
“Our hopes are that we can get our programs going again, and that we can get these mental health assistance programs running again inside of our jail to help people transition from being inside of jail,” added Marigoni.
The next step is getting staff trained on integrating workforce services for those getting released. County leaders hope the program will be running in full force, come January.