Meth treatment wing proposed in Rifle |

Meth treatment wing proposed in Rifle

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. – A methamphetamine treatment wing is being considered as a possible eventual addition to Garfield County’s new community corrections center.

The addition is proposed as part of the county’s five-year plan.

The meth wing would be built in response to a growing problem of local meth use. The community corrections center’s director, Guy Meyer, said the addition would allow for 45-day, in-house treatment in a residential setting, apart from the rest of the center’s population. Meth users requiring such treatment now must be sent to facilities outside the county.

Meyer called meth “a pretty devastating drug” that’s highly addictive. Many users don’t get help until they are caught and end up in the criminal justice system, he said.

The meth wing is merely conceptual at this point. It hasn’t been approved by county commissioners, and Meyer said it’s not envisioned to be built for several years, if ever. After all, it’s possible that meth will go out of fashion, he said.

“Gosh, five years from now there could be a new drug of choice,” he said.

The county opened the 60-bed, $1.5 million community corrections center in May across from the county airport in Rifle. It provides an alternative sentencing option for mostly nonviolent, mid-level felony offenders, and allows clients to be released each day to go to work.

A proposed meth wing could be as large as 34 beds. County manager Ed Green said the addition could cost at least $2.5 million.

He added, “Building bricks and sticks is easy. It’s developing the program that you put inside there that’s the challenge, and that’s why it’s not an immediate project, because it’s going to take some time to develop that approach. It takes some pretty skilled people to implement it.”

He said Mesa County is kicking off an intensive residential treatment program for meth users, from which Garfield County is able to learn things as it considers starting its own program.

Garfield County is currently busy making the adjustment to a bigger and more varied community corrections program. It formerly operated out of the county jail in Glenwood Springs, and had 34 beds.

Meyer said the male portion of the new center already has come close to filling up, and a waiting list has been created.

The center also has opened a 10-bed section for females. Previously, women had to be shipped out of the county to participate in community corrections programs.