Recidivism rates expected to decrease with new housing program for women in Salt Lake County

Posted at 8:06 PM, Sep 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-21 22:06:10-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- The women in the CORE II program have a mantra.

"Sobriety, empowering, beautiful you. We are the women of Core II," said participant and CORE II Leader Brittany Peck.

The nine women are overcoming addiction. Some are dealing with mental illness. Many sat behind bars not too long ago.

Now they call the Valley Behavioral Health house home. The home provides a transitional setting as women can re-enter the community, in hopes they won’t relapse or get back into old habits.

“This is my room,” Peck said, gesturing to the modest room with one twin bed, a dresser and sink.

Most rooms have two beds, but some residents like Peck get their own room depending on far along in the program they are.

Peck moved into the home in early September. She’s already making progress. She said she’s worked a lot on coping skills.

"I've had a lot of grief and trauma, depression," she said, listing off what she’s dealing with.

The women have more than just a room to help in their recovery.

"They will have a treatment team assigned to them, helping them with their medications, counseling and also their sobriety," Valley Behavioral Health CEO Gary Larcenaire said.

He said they already know the system works. They have one just like it for men.

According to statistics provided by Salt Lake County Behavioral Health Services, men in the CORE I program saw a 41 percent drop in new charges booked against them, and up to an 85 percent drop in jail time after leaving the program.

"It's absolutely amazing the outcomes that we are experiencing," Larcenaire said.

And state officials said at the facility’s ribbon cutting Monday that it’s not just about breaking the cycle of re-offending. It’s about changing the system as a whole.

"The game has changed, things are different and we're going to run things differently than we have before,” said Utah Rep. Eric Hutchings.

Plus, he and Larcenaire said, it saves tax dollars.

"We're trying to interrupt that cycle of constantly going in and out of the jail. We don't want the jail to be a revolving door,” Larcenaire said.

He said jail isn't the best environment for treatment. “This therapeutic environment’s going to give us a lot better outcomes for the community and the taxpayers," he said.

Peck said that therapeutic environment is exactly what’s working for her. Her life has already transformed in her short time in the program.

"I'd probably still be homeless, and I would probably be relapsing honestly,” she said. “This place has given me a lot of independence and kept me really, really strong."

She looks to the CORE II mantra every day. In fact, she helped come up with it. And she can now live with sobriety, empowerment and beauty.