Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Remarks of Commissioner Brian Fischer
Presentation of New Operating Certificate for Willard Drug Treatment Campus
Willard Drug Treatment Campus
July 2, 2009

(This speech was part of a ceremony to mark the official certification by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services of enhancements to the treatment readiness services regimen for parolees sentenced to Willard’s 90-day residential program.)

Thank you, (Acting Willard Superintendent) Mike (Nash), and thank you all for joining us for today’s important event, which holds three lessons.

The first is that when people come together in good faith, an awful lot can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time.

The second is that while it is important to understand the past, it is more important to set a new course for the future.

And the third is that there is always room for improvement if people will put aside preconceived ideas, consider new options and work together.

In the case of Willard, everyone has the same positive goal – to make sure that those who require our help are provided the assistance they need to move forward with their lives in a positive manner.

By bringing together the agencies involved – the Department of Correctional Services, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, and the Division of Parole - the common good can be achieved by sending individuals home from Willard with new personal skills and tools to make it in the community.

We are improving upon the already nationally-recognized services we provide to parolees at Willard in order to enhance public safety and help the participants deal with addiction. In cooperation with OASAS and in accordance with this year’s reforms to the Rockefeller Drug Laws, we intend to add key elements of the new Willard practices to the varied and numerous substance abuse treatment programs we already provide incarcerated offenders at many of our correctional facilities.

I should note that today’s event marks the beginning of the Department’s implementation of the many positive changes called for by the 2009 drug law reforms. One of the most important provides eligible offenders who are currently in a traditional correctional facility the opportunity to seek transfer to our Shock Incarceration Program, which is similar to the program here at Willard but until now was only open to offenders just entering the prison system.

I want to offer special thanks to two people here with us today: Mel Williams, the former Superintendent here at Willard, and Cherie Clark, the director of our Shock program, who developed the Willard program based on the Shock model.

Success in Shock results in an earlier return home, along with continued substance abuse treatment in the community by OASAS-certified providers. Like Willard, Shock helps achieve the common good; the offenders improve themselves, communities benefit from a reduced crime rate, and the State saves money through reduced need for prison space both during the offender’s incarceration, and afterward.