By Bill Sessa, Information Officer I | OPEC

Twenty-seven inmates from California State Prison, Solano, were the most recent to receive certifications that eventually will enable them to counsel other inmates in addiction-treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse.

The graduation ceremony in late May for the Offender Mentor Certification Program marked the inmates’ successful completion of 350 hours of academic classroom work and 300 hours in a closely supervised practicum.  In addition, all have taken an internationally recognized exam sanctioned by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors.  They will move on to a 4,000-hour, clinically supervised internship as they prepare to become professional counselors.

All of the inmates chosen for the program had previously addressed their own problems with drug and alcohol use, problems shared by 58 percent of male inmates and 64 percent of females, by completing a Substance Abuse Treatment Program administered by CDCR.   

“By addressing their own problems with substance abuse, these inmates are role models and a source of hope for other inmates who also struggle with addiction,” said CDCR Undersecretary Terri McDonald.
“When they become fully certified professionals, these graduates will enable the department to expand substance-abuse treatment to more inmates in a cost-effective way, which is especially valuable during these times of lean budgets.”

Established in 2008, the Offender Mentor Certification Program is a partnership between CDCR and the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors.

Another 47 inmates completed this program at Solano in August 2009, and 17 inmates from Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla graduated as certified mentors in January 2011.