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Inmate rehabilitation
This is the sixth in the series of candidates comparison. I am highlighting the issues and which of your candidates have comments on or made a plan to address. A reminder that these were researched only using the campaign Facebook pages. Because it appears there were a couple who misunderstood the below listings, I will now ensure all candidates are listed. If they did not comment on it I will indicate that next to their name.
Election Issue: Inmate Rehabilitation
Candidate: Bryson
Date/General idea of posting
01/30/22: Focus on rehabilitation.
10/24/21: Expand programs in jail.
Teen Challenge and Life Challenge for women.
No wrong doors.
Bring in other resources as well.
08/30/21: Our responsibility to serve and support a resource system.
Plan to constantly seek grants and funding opportunities to make mental health resources and substance abuse treatment more readilly available and accessible in WNC.
We need to offer our community members an alternative to turning to drugs.
Election Issue: Inmate Rehabilitation
Candidate: Jones
Date/General idea of posting
11/14/22: If elected he will continue.
Is a member of the mental health task force, member of substance abuse task force. Member of project lifesaver and No wrong door for support and recovery.
10/28/22: Posted about a jail program rehab graduation.
Election Issue: Inmate Rehabilitation
Candidate: Cook
Date/General idea of posting
2/8/22: Mentioned drug court and using opioid money for rehab facilities.
11/05/21: Revolving door. Same addicts are arrested over and over.
Will enhance the programs.
Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Keep No Wrong Doors
10/25/21: Will address the rehabilitation of addicts
08/22/21: Proposed Medically Assisted Treatment Program to reduce relapse, repeat offender and deaths.
8/14/21: Mentioned using asset seizures to help supplement rehabilitation programs.
6/30/21: Mentioned expanding rehab programs and getting County Commissioners to support.
Election Issue: Inmate Rehabilitation
Candidate: Holbrooks
Date/General idea of posting
No comments on this subject.
Election Issue: Inmate Rehabilitation
Candidate: Browning
Date/General idea of posting
No comments on this subject.


Last week I answered a question that was asked of all of the candidates. I thought it was a good question that many may have on their minds so I posted it here.
Macon County, NC Sheriff’s Election Page
Nickalosi Vaccaro
Question: “In Macon County most candidates agree the drug problem has increased over the years which means the resources implemented over the years have not been effective.
I've researched many different Sheriff's departments and the programs they have implemented. Their stats show a decrease in their drug related crimes. So I can only assume none of those programs are being used here in Macon County, since everyone agrees thing have become worse.
I'm sure there are some that will want to say they know the programs that other departments are using and having success with will not work here. But if that was the case candidates wouldn't be referring to the drug problem using the words "pandemic" and "epidemic".
So I would like to hear your thoughts about the increasing drug problem here in Macon County, especially from the candidates.
I don't know very many people who are not effected by addiction one way or another and by no means is it a laughing matter. I don't have an alcohol addiction but my quality of life was negatively effected by a drunk driver and the one thing I can't stand is a person with one or more drunk driving violations who thinks they know it all, when they don't even recognize they are a danger to society.”
Answer: This question is one of the more multifaceted questions that could be asked to a candidate. It requires addressing on a number of areas. Simply put this must be addressed by prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation. This could be a pretty long post, but I will try to hit the highlights.
Prevention: This area will require education. One area of education would be in our schools with our children. Currently the DARE program is targeting the children in the 5th grade. We need to ensure this program is continued and expanded if possible.
Enforcement: This is one area where the Sheriff’s Office can have the greatest impact.
I will continue to have DWI checkpoints in accordance with the law. I will work in conjunction with other agencies to ensure they are efficient and effective. I will work with the DWI Task force to ensure we are doing all we can to reduce this terrible crime.
I have put forth a number of proposals in reference to drug enforcement. Proposals such as: installing a drug tip hotline; ensuring complaints are investigated or followed up on; holding drug dealers responsible for overdose deaths; creating a drug task force with our neighboring counties; working closely with our federal partners; utilizing the federal court system to prosecute drug and gun crimes; ensuring my deputies are trained in areas such as interdiction and narcotics investigations.
Rehabilitation: I feel this is nearly as important as the enforcement phase. Without the rehabilitation portion, my deputies will only continue to arrest the same individuals over and over. As such I have proposed:
In house counseling. Taking a look at what we are currently doing and making it more effective. If it doesn’t work, get rid of it and find one that does.
In house treatment. Treat the addiction as a medical issue. As such start the Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) program for those inmates upon booking into the facility. This has proven successful in other areas in western North Carolina and has reduced repeat offenders and overdose deaths.
I will strongly encourage the County Commissioners to utilize the money that will be received in the big pharma award to build a treatment facility.
I will work with the District Attorney to support and encourage the establishment of a drug court in Macon County to ensure those first time offenders are offered an alternative to long term incarceration. We currently will have a Veteran’s Court coming to our area. This is a drug court, but for a smaller, more specific portion of our population.
In conclusion, over the past ten months or so, I have made a number of core proposals to make our citizens safer and address the drug problem. If you would like more detail, please check out either my website or Facebook page.


Rearresting the same drug addicts time and again is counterproductive. We need to get better with the rehabilitation programs that are offered while they are incarcerated. In addition to instituting a Medically Assisted Treatment program after booking, I have spoken to the good people at No Wrong Door to see how we can make it better! Enhancing these programs will cut down on repeat offenders. It will reduce the potential for post release relapse and save lives. It will save Macon County citizens their hard earned tax money. Now THAT is forward thinking!


This week I want to continue on my proposals for inmate programs. I have discussed in my detailed plans and proposals for the law enforcement side of the MCSO many times.

I have said a number of times that I see no real benefit to continually arresting the same addicts over and over. To that end I have been researching the Medication Assisted Treatment Program (MAT). This program allows those arrested to continue with their prescribed treatment to prevent withdrawals from addiction. The MCSO is one of the participants in the MAT program but only on an outpatient basis at the current time. I understand that there was an attempt to have inpatient (in-house) MAT treatment but as of yet hasn’t been instituted. If I am elected, I would pursue this program as I feel it will save the citizens of Macon county valuable tax money in the future and cut down on the re-arrest rate..

There are many benefits to allowing an inmate to continue to take medically prescribed drugs to assist in the withdrawal process. If we are allowed to participate with in-house treatment, it would require us to get through a lot of red tape. There would be strict procedures like there are with any other medications that are administered.
Currently if an inmate is booked and has been taking methadone, he stops getting it and this causes him to go through withdrawals. However, according to a 2009 National Institute of Health on Drug Abuse study, many inmates return to previous levels of abuse not realizing they can’t tolerate it. Federal data shows that 85% of prison populations either have a substance abuse issue or was arrested for crimes related to drug abuse. An inmate that is forced to go through the withdrawal process is 40% more likely to overdose once they are released from jail.

Buncombe county Sheriff’s Office uses a system similar to MAT and has seen a 17% reduction in repeat offenders. We have a daily population of at least 75 inmates. If we were able to reduce even 10% of our population with this program, it could be a significant savings for Macon county. Additionally, this is a huge benefit for those inmates who are trying to break the addiction cycle.

The CDC provides guidance on how to implement this program. There are a number of grants available to deduct any costs associated with administration of the MAT. So before the usual naysayers begin, yes I know we may or may not get a grant. Yes I know the county commissioners must approve a grant. I also know we must have a plan of where to start and if you don’t have a plan then you are voting for the process as it was. The jail is overcrowded inmates who are not allowed to continue this treatment is one reason the same people are placed in the system over and over.

Look for more on this subject in the future.

It is this forward, out of the box thinking that I bring to the table because I have been leadership tested and experience proven.

Paid for by the Bob Cook for Sheriff Committee
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