BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
In the matter of the amendment of
Chemical Dependency Treatment Program
NOTICE OF AMENDMENT
TO: All Concerned Persons
1. On April 10, 2008 the Department of Corrections published MAR Notice No. 20-7-41 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed amendment of the above-stated rule at page 605 of the 2008 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 7.
2. The department has amended the above-stated rule as proposed.
3. The department has thoroughly considered the comments and testimony received. A summary of the comments received and the department's responses are as follows:
COMMENT #1: Glendive resident Lori Muller, 6 Kensington Place, criticized how the survey was conducted and said it should have been conducted by a third party and not by the Department of Corrections. Mrs. Muller said she did not initially receive a survey in the mail and said she knows of three other homes in the Hillcrest subdivision that did not receive one. Mrs. Muller said the survey should have been anonymous and said some people did not return the survey because the survey form had spaces for respondents to indicate their name and address. She said the department should not conduct any future surveys in this manner and suggested one of the universities would be a more appropriate entity to conduct the survey. Mrs. Muller said the WATCh-East program is really good, although she opposes the program's expansion. Her concern is safety for residents in the neighborhood. Mrs. Muller said people in the facility can watch the neighborhood residents and see what they are doing. She said the program is wonderful, however the location is not appropriate.
RESPONSE #1: The Administrative Rules state, "The department shall conduct a survey of an unbiased representative sampling of the Glendive community and Georgetown subdivisions…." Therefore, the rules permit the department to conduct the survey. Recently, the department received bids for a survey relating to another matter from the universities which ranged from $12,000 and $18,000 per survey. The department chose not to expend the funds necessary to pay another entity to conduct the survey for this rule change. The department acknowledges that Mrs. Muller did not initially receive a survey. However, when the department became aware of the oversight, the department mailed a survey to her residence as well as to four other Hillcrest/Georgetown subdivision residences.
The department sent out 430 surveys to residents of Glendive, including 215 to residents of the Hillcrest and Georgetown subdivisions and 215 to a random sampling of Glendive residents living in other areas of town. The department received back 216 returned surveys, with 201 surveys indicating support for the proposed expansion of the facility and 15 opposing the expansion. Thirteen survey respondents did not include their name or address on the returned surveys; nonetheless, the department counted those responses.
COMMENT #2: In addition to her comments at the hearing, Mrs. Muller submitted two letters opposing the expansion. In one letter, she stated the increased capacity multiplies risks associated with having the facility in a residential area. In addition to that comment, Mrs. Muller's letter requested changes in how the property is currently being used and requested the department add perimeter plantings to reduce both noise and the opportunity for WATCh-East participants to view the neighborhood.
In another letter, Mrs. Muller complained about other Glendive residents who have publicly expressed a desire to change other provisions of the administrative rules, including a restriction that prohibits visitors from driving directly to the facility. Mrs. Muller included two letters to the editor printed in the Glendive newspaper. The letters expressed support for expansion of the WATCh-East facility and one letter advocated for changing the administrative rules to permit visitors to drive directly to the facility. In her letter, Mrs. Muller asked the department to request others to "end public lobbying for changes to the administrative rules and discourage others from engaging in venomous letter writing campaigns on their behalf…"
RESPONSE #2: The department will take under advisement Mrs. Muller's request for additional plantings on the property. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Art. II, § VII, of the Montana Constitution preclude the department from infringing on an individual's right to freedom of speech or expression.
COMMENT #3: Barbara Anderson, 112 West Main, Glendive, supports the expansion and said treatment is needed for people convicted of DUI. She said she disagreed with the notion that the Hillcrest subdivision is affected more by the location of the program than the rest of Glendive. She said Glendive is a small town and therefore all areas are equally affected by the program's presence in town, and noted the program's presence is positive for Glendive.
COMMENT #4: Pat Mischel, 47 Road 261, Glendive, supports the expansion and said only nonviolent offenders are placed at WATCh-East. He said it's more dangerous to have DUI offenders in the communities, driving their cars, than having them in treatment.
COMMENT #5: Deb Mooer, 521 Hemlock, Glendive, supports the program and said she visits the facility and feels the program participants are good people who have made bad choices.
COMMENT #6: Gary Gaub, 311 E. Williams, Glendive, said he supports the proposal to increase the capacity of WATCh-East. Mr. Gaub is the chair of the WATCh-East screening committee, and he said the committee takes the screening process very seriously. The committee meets numerous times to screen offenders for placement and take each case individually. He feels the program is valuable to society and may prevent someone from getting hurt by a drunk driver.
COMMENT #7: Bob Ackerman, 414 E. Barry, Glendive, supports the program because it helps people with drug and alcohol problems and provides good jobs with good benefits for Glendive.
COMMENT #8: Bob Anderson, 111 Glenwood Ave., Glendive, said he supports the expansion because he has personal experience with alcoholism. He said the devastation to families is terrible and treatment is needed.
COMMENT #9: Bob Patterson, 201 1st Street, Highland Park, Glendive, said he supports the WATCh-East program 100%. The program is good for Glendive because it employs many residents, buys groceries in town, and brings business to town. He said he supports the expansion.
COMMENT #10: Jim O'Conner, 402 Little Street, Glendive, said he supports the WATCh-East program. He is a pastor and he leads Bible study at WATCh-East on Wednesday nights. He said program participants are good people who have made bad mistakes in their lifetime. He said incarceration without help is a waste of money.
COMMENT #11: Neville and Joan Peterson, Glendive, submitted a letter expressing support for the proposed increase in capacity for the WATCh-East program. The Petersons said the program benefits both participants of the treatment program and the citizens of Montana by lessening the danger posed by DUI offenders.
RESPONSE TO COMMENTS #3-11: The department appreciates the community's support of the WATCh-East program.
/s/ Colleen A. White /s/ Mike Ferriter
COLLEEN A. WHITE MIKE FERRITER
Rule Reviewer Director
Department of Corrections
Certified to the Secretary of State June 2, 2008.