On Tuesday, March 15th, Frank Brewer spoke on behalf of the Caroline County Recovery Community Program during public comments before the Board of Supervisors in Bowling Green, Virginia.
The Caroline County Recovery Community Program currently receives $30,000 a year from the county for a program designed to keep otherwise good people who suffer from drug addiction, out of jail and tied into a community of recovery-focused counseling. Mr. Brewer brought with him several local Caroline residents currently in this program. Each of these participants talked about taking responsibility for their lives and praised the program, not for keeping them out of jail, but for allowing them to reenter the job market, to be able to get married, to raise their children, and to be productive, working people. Many of them admitted that without the program, they might not even be alive today. Addiction typically has only three final results: prison, institution, or death – if untreated.
The CCRCP is an off shoot of the McShin Foundation, based out of Henrico County. Currently the CCRCP has 20 participants in the program in Caroline, which is down from previous years. The program was born when Tony Spencer, our previous Commonwealth Attorney saw a similar program in action in Hanover County, and wanted to bring it to Caroline. Frank Brewer (and now his wife Cynde), who administers the program in Caroline, was sent to Caroline to get the program off and running in January of 2011.
While the program appears to have stalled during the transition between our outgoing and incoming Commonwealth Attorneys, Mr. Brewer explained that Mr. Mahoney has voiced his support for the program as well.
I believe that programs such as these are immensely important. Our jails and prisons are meant to protect us from those of our fellow citizens who’s behavior threatens the peace and social contract of our society. Sending people to prison should always be a last resort. Prisons do not provide the most inspiring and ethics-cultivating environments. Often times, when we send our fellow citizens to prison over their drug addictions, they come out of those prisons with more than just a drug problem. They come out more violent, more angry, and more desperate.
Prison cannot cure drug addiction. We can use cells and guns to force our prisoners not to use drugs, but the second we release them, they are going to go right back to using. Now, this makes no sense to most people, but this is simply how addiction works. It’s a disease.
What Mr. Brewer is doing here in Caroline County is helping to teach addicts how to live productive, law-abiding lives, to build families, and to earn their place at a stable job. This saves the taxpayers of Caroline County a great deal of money. It is better to have these young men out of jail and working, providing for their children, than for the county to be paying for their incarceration, on the one hand, and providing services to their children on the other.
I’m not writing this to pressure the Board of Supervisors into giving the CCRCP more money. I know that the Board will look at the numbers and make a rational investment in the program. They have those numbers, I do not. However, I do want to bring Mr. Brewer and the CCRCP to the attention of Caroline County Residents, as a truly positive and life-saving program in the county.