NRS 209.4231 thru 209.4244 – Overview of Policies Governing Therapeutic Communities Available to Nevada Inmates

According to NRS 209.4236, the Director of each prison and the Division of Public and Behavioral Health of the Department of Health and Human Services work together to establish what the Nevada prisons term “therapeutic communities”. A therapeutic community is an alcohol and drug abuse treatment program within the prison.

What Does a Therapeutic Community Provide?

An alcohol and drug abuse treatment program will provide each prisoner with:

  • Intensive treatment abuse therapy;
  • Clearly defined goals, establishing where he is and where he is going;
  • A clearly defined authority structure; and
  • A highly organized schedule – it must include employment, educational programs, or vocational training.

Why Is it Called a Therapeutic “Community”?

Prisoners in an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program are housed separately from the other prisoners. Sometimes they are segregated into a different area of the prison, and sometimes they are housed in a separate facility altogether.

How Long Does a Prisoner Have to be in a Therapeutic Community?

A substance abuser – whether of a controlled substance, alcohol, a poison, drugs, a toxic inhalant, or of a solvent, must participate in the alcohol and drug abuse treatment program for one year and an aftercare program for an additional year.

How Do You Get into a Therapeutic Community?

To participate in an alcohol and drug abuse treatment program, you must meet be evaluated according to the procedure set up by the Director and Division. They must decide whether you’re truly a substance abuser by definition and whether you’ll benefit from participation in the program. If these are answered in the positive, the Director will decide whether to assign you to the therapeutic community or not.

This determination will be based one a few things. One is the severity of your problem, and the other is whether there is any space available in the program for another intake.

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Also, the Division must give preference to the prisoners who seem most willing to participate in and complete the alcohol and drug abuse treatment program. If you’re not showing a desire to do the program, you may not get accepted.

Lastly, you will only be eligible to participate in the program if you’re within two years of your expected release date.

Who’s Ineligible?

You are not eligible for alcohol and drug abuse treatment in a Nevada prison if:

  1. You are on death row;
  2. You are sentenced to life in prison; and
  3. You are eligible for another program established under NRS 209.425.

What is an Aftercare Program?

An “aftercare program” is an alcohol and drug abuse treatment program that you must participate in after completing your treatment in the therapeutic community. As mentioned earlier, the aftercare program is one year long. It can be completed before or during your parole. If you complete it during parole, it will be a condition of your parole.

Getting Kicked Out of an Aftercare Program

You can get yourself kicked out of a therapeutic community or aftercare program for disobeying the law or any other lawful purpose or reason.

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There are also other reasons you can be removed from an alcohol or drug abuse treatment or aftercare program. These can be temporary or permanent dismissals and are decided by the Director. These removals usually have to do with a failure to follow the conditions set forth for remaining in the program.

How Can a Las Vegas, Nevada Prison Offer an Alcohol or Drug Abuse Treatment Program or Aftercare Program?

Where the Director and his officers are not qualified to evaluate prisoners and administer these programs, the Director will contract someone who is. You will have quality care from someone who is a professional in that field.

How Will I Know that I’m Getting Quality Care?

The Director has to report directly to the Legislature every other year on how many prisoners are currently in a therapeutic community or aftercare program, the number of prisoners who have begun and stopped either program before completed (for whatever reason) and ended up reincarcerated, and the number of prisoners who have graduated both programs and been reincarcerated. In other words, the Director has to report where the program has succeeded and where it has failed. This alone will push him to push “his people” to be the best they can be for you.

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