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Mercer University Partners with Georgia Department of Corrections to Train Counselors

January 4, 2007

Georgia Department of Corrections contact:
Yolanda E. Thompson
Director, Office of Public Affairs
(404) 656-9772

Mercer Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(800) 837-2911, ext. 4037
(478) 301-4037

ATLANTA – The Mercer University College of Continuing and Professional Studies and the Georgia Department of Corrections will host its graduation ceremony for 25 substance abuse counselors who are completing the first phase of a special certification in Addiction Counseling on Thursday, Jan. 11, at 1:00 p.m. in the Trustees Dining Room, Mercer University, Cecil B. Day Campus, 3001 Mercer University Drive, Atlanta. 

“We’re facing an explosive meth epidemic across the state, and there is a huge shortage of certified addiction counselors in Georgia and nationwide,” said Corrections Commissioner James E. Donald. “This joint effort helps us equip our staff with specialized skills and ensures we have access to well-trained professionals who can address an increasing population of offenders with substance abuse problems.”

In the Corrections Board meeting today, Commissioner Donald reported that 250-300 offenders are entering the state’s prison system each month for crimes involving methamphetamine abuse. “We support Governor Perdue’s campaign to win the battle against the scourge of meth abuse, and we are very pleased he has supported additional treatment beds in our prisons as part of this effort,” said Donald.
“With an estimated seven out of 10 probationers under our supervision impacted by substance abuse problems, we are very committed to expanding certification opportunities for our counselors,” said Commissioner Donald.

The Georgia Addictions Counselors Association (GACA) will certify the counselors after they complete the new addiction education program requirements, which include seven education modules as part of evidence-based programming that has proven to reduce recidivism. The modules focus on 12 core functions of addiction education. The certification process also includes 270 hours of classroom instruction, 300 hours of clinical supervision, 4,000 hours of program delivery and written and oral examinations. Dr. Billy Slaton, Associate Professor of Counseling and Human Sciences and Program Coordinator for Criminal Justice at Mercer University, taught the counselors in each of the modules.

Corrections launched the “in-house” education partnership to increase the number of certified addiction counselors in the agency’s Day Reporting Centers. A Day Reporting Center operates as a non-custody alternative to prison at the low cost of $12 per day, compared to prison costs of $45 per day. Offenders in the program are required to spend all day at the center receiving drug treatment, cognitive skills classes and job skills training. After one month, the offenders are required to work and report to the center on a daily basis. Random drug screenings are also conducted.

About the Department of Corrections:
The Department of Corrections is the fifth largest prison system in the United States and is responsible for supervising over 57,000 inmates in custody and 140,000 probationers under supervision. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with nearly 15,000 employees.

About Mercer's College of Continuing and Professional Studies:
The College of Continuing and Professional Studies offers undergraduate and graduate academic programs and lifelong learning opportunities for adults who seek leadership roles in their communities and beyond, professional transition and advancement, and lives that have meaning and purpose. The College offers bachelor's degrees in Douglas County, Henry County, Macon and Eastman as well as graduate degrees in Atlanta.

About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; teaching hospitals in Macon and Savannah; an educational partnership with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit