BEAVER, WV (WVNS) – A Beckley attorney wants the West Virginia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to make sure that patients are treated for substance abuse while they are in the Southern Penitentiary.
Robert Dunlap, who is suing the prison on behalf of the victims, said many inmates need the treatment.
The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes substance use disorder as a mental illness, but Southern Regional Jail’s Dunlap said it’s only the two assistants take care of hundreds of prisoners.
“Calling them counselors is not fair, because they don’t have the opportunity to participate in counseling,” Dunlap said on Wednesday, January 18, 2023. “At the Southern Penitentiary, There’s absolutely no treatment program, if you’re abusing it.”
The Prison Policy Initiative reported that of the 100,000 West Virginians, 731 are incarcerated in some way.
The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency reported that one in 10 West Virginians use drugs, which is associated with high crime rates.
Dunlap alleged that the prison often does not follow the treatment plans prescribed by the inmates’ doctors for the illness.
The lawyer and Dr. Hassan Jafary, a Beckley psychiatrist, reports that drug abuse patients admitted to the Southern Detention Center are not being given their prescribed medications, such as Suboxone and Methadone, which eliminates the desire for opioids.
“A lot of suffering, when people go there, from Suboxone and Methadone, and they don’t get treatment,” said Dr. Jafary, who is a proponent of Suboxone treatment for addiction. “The withdrawal of treatment is so serious that the patient can have many medical problems. If they are elderly, they can have heart disease and other things.”
According to Dunlap, withholding drugs from the use of painkillers while incarcerated may also endanger other inmates.
According to Jafary, proper treatment benefits prison staff, prisoners and society.
“People who go to prison and continue treatment, the cost of the prison itself will drop by fifty percent because they will reduce their attacks,” said Jafary. “They don’t have a fight there. They’ll feel better because when people get sick, they’re really motivated.”