A change in leadership at the Alcohol Abuse Deterrent Program presents an opportune time to review the entire program – not only its management, but its effectiveness, safety and value in light of new developments in alcohol-abuse treatment.
The non-profit program’s board of directors recently sent a letter to Terry Yeiter, executive director of AADP since 2000, asking him to step down. Win Rood, the board’s chairman, said the board had lost confidence in Yeiter’s management abilities, including the lack of a sound accounting system for medication distributed by the program.
The rumor mill suggested there was medication unaccounted for and reports of overcharging. Rood said an investigation found AADP actually had more pills than records showed, but they were at a different treatment location.
AADP was established to provide an aversion-therapy alternative to incarceration for repeat drunken-driving offenders. Court-ordered participants take Antabuse, the brand name for disulfiram, which blocks the body’s ability to process alcohol and causes discomfort or illness when taken in combination with alcohol. Last year, AADP administered Antabuse or breath tests to about 1,500 people a week. Offenders are required to pay for treatment.
Questions about the program’s cost have long circulated. According to figures from the 990 form filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Yeiter earned $73,170 in 2006. That amount was down from 2005, when he earned $85,239 in salary and benefits and 2004, when he earned $91,897. Five other AADP employees earned more than $57,000 in 2006, and contracts for medical and legal services totaled more than $319,000.
To its credit, Rood said the board will re-evaluate the organization’s structure. A full audit will be performed.
In its inquiry, the non-profit board should engage in serious self-examination beyond any search for wrongdoing or mismanagement. Certainly, AADP is a less-costly alternative to locking up repeat DWI offenders, but is it the most cost-effective alternative? Do the medical and constitutional questions about Antabuse treatment warrant its continued use? The program has been the subject of legal challenges, and there are questions about the drug’s effect on the liver.
Allen Circuit Judge Thomas J. Felts, who orders some offenders to the program, said that he is re-evaluating the best course for felony drunken-driving cases in light of the developments at AADP but said the program has been doing a good job in spite of the director’s departure.
“We are in good communication about what steps they are taking,” Felts said. “What direction we take will be based in large part on what their audit and investigation finds. It will help me in my determination of where the board should go.”
The judge said the prosecutor’s office and adult probation will also help to determine the outcome. “We’re all partners in this,” he said. “It’s a countywide approach.”
The judge said that none of the options for handling felony cases is perfect, but the goal would be to find the best.
Some state and local corrections systems are turning to the use of technology, including a new ankle-monitoring system that detects alcohol consumption by the wearer. The device is in use in 44 states, including Indiana. Felts said he was at a conference where Indiana University medical school representatives reported high error rates with the system, but he acknowledged that some judges and probation officials in Marion County were pleased with results there.
AADP has served the probation and court system in Allen County for almost two decades, undoubtedly saving lives in the process. But every organization demands review over time. The problems that arose in the deterrence program and resulted in its director’s departure prove the review at AADP is overdue.
source: Journal Gazette Forth Wayne, Indiana