Some fear drug rehab facilities could be shut down

OXFORD, Ala. (AP) — Terri Baker worries that Oxford’s push to close all drug rehabilitation facilities operating in the city will hurt people who need help overcoming their addictions.

Baker tells The Anniston Star (http://bit.ly/1biCMdU ) that she spent two months in prison before being referred to one of them, Oxford Outreach in 2007. She said the six months of structured living at the nonprofit treatment facility gave her a new life.

But local officials say the facilities are unregulated and unsafe.

The Oxford City Council last month hired an attorney to take legal action against the city’s 11 residential drug rehab facilities, which council members said are operating as boarding houses in violation of zoning ordinances.

Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge said that while some local drug rehabs do a good job, the faith-based nonprofits are not regulated.

“The city doesn’t regulate them,” Partridge said. “The state doesn’t regulate them. They just do what they want to do,” Partridge said.

Partridge said he believes that if a person is arrested for a crime and requires treatment for addiction, such treatment should be done in jail, “where there are regulations. Where it’s controlled and you can’t walk away and commit further crimes.”

But several Oxford Outreach residents say that facility does offer a structured environment.

Oxford Outreach requires the all-female residents in the nonprofit’s two homes to work, but does not operate a business that employs them, said Kendra Homesley, 29, of Eastaboga.

Homesley was referred to Oxford Outreach by her lawyer in 2009 after being arrested on drug charges. She spent 14 months there and said the experience changed her life.

“They taught me everything that I do today that I couldn’t do before. How to pay bills. How to go to work on time and work all day. How to clean house,” Homesley told the Anniston newspaper. “It’s really a supportive living facility.”

At the state level, Anniston Republican Sen. Del Marsh said he will reintroduce a bill in the upcoming legislation session that would require that drug programs be approved by the municipalities in which they operate. A similar bill introduced by Marsh last year passed the Senate but not the House.

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Information from: The Anniston Star, http://www.annistonstar.com/

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