By Nina Feldman
After eight and a half months, William Rivera was leaving the Camden County Jail.
He’s been inside many times before, between 40 and 50 stints — if you include all the times he was incarcerated as a youth.
This latest time was for burglary. Rivera, 37, said he stole to buy heroin. “I’m doing that to support my habits,” Rivera said. “I don’t never want to do that no more. I’m trying to do things positive, not negative.”
The Camden County Jail recently launched a program for inmates who, like Rivera, have substance use disorder and mental health issues.
The Co-Occurring Reentry Program (CORP) connects inmates with re-entry specialists — case managers who specialize in the challenges specific to leaving incarceration and rebuilding a life on the outside.
In the program, administrators assess inmates to identify what they need to succeed outside of jail — be it housing, employment, addiction treatment, or health care.
The program work begins when people are sentenced, once they have some idea of how long they’ll be incarcerated. Program staffers stay connected with inmates through their release — and beyond.
The program is funded by a three-year, $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.