By MIRANDA ENZOR
ALTERNATIVE OPTION: Ralph Casteel, director of community placement for Avalon in Tulsa, stands in front of his downtown billboard near the Tulsa County Courthouse. Avalon’s program is an alternative to prison that helps clients maintain employment. For more information, visit www.avaloncorrections.com.
MIRANDA ENZOR for GTR Newspapers
It only takes one DUI to land an Oklahoman in jail for up to a year.
A second DUI? Automatic prison time of up to 10 years.
In many cases, individuals who commit these offenses are citizens who made bad decisions in the heat-of-the-moment, want to right that decision but can’t afford to lose their home, family or job by going to prison.
Enter Avalon Correctional Services.
Avalon provides an alternative to jail or prison, recognizing that “clients can be effectively monitored and provided with quality programs in a community setting,” according to the company’s Web site, www.avaloncorrections.com.
Originally founded in 1985 to alleviate the number of individuals incarcerated for drunk driving offenses, Avalon’s main clientele are individuals with drug or alcohol-related charges. Avalon offers clients the opportunity to participate in a court-approved program while maintaining a job. Participants are allowed to keep current jobs or are provided help in finding a job. They pay a weekly fee to partake in one of Avalon’s programs, live in the company’s facility (depending on their program) and participate in a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program if needed.
Avalon’s overall objective is reducing recidivism, overpopulated prisons and the taxpayer’s burden for the cost of corrections.
In return, Avalon gives the individual the opportunity to prove to a judge that he/she is serious about changing and willing to be rehabilitated under supervision before returning to a normal life.
Avalon’s Tulsa Director of Community Placement Ralph Casteel can sum it all up in one example.
“Avalon is an alternative to jail or prison, that allows clients to keep their jobs. The clients can reside at the facility, take random drug tests, and attend counseling all while paying for it out of their own pocket. Another option to residing
at the facility is the Day-Reporting Program, where the client is required to report multiple times during the week as ordered by the courts but does not reside at the facility.”
Avalon’s Work Release Program is a structured residential alternative for county jail or state prison sentences. Clients maintain employment while living at the correctional facility and receive individual case management. The length of stay depends on court specifications. Monthly progress reports are made and the client is ordered to be responsible for program participation and costs.
Another alternative is the Day Reporting Program, which allows clients a non-residential alternative. Clients report regularly to a case manager and participate in program services as determined by their Level of Supervision Inventory score.
Additionally, Avalon offers a Weekend Sanctions Program, which allows the client to maintain employment during the week or weekend while being held accountable throughout a 48-hour ordered sanction.
“When the judge sentences individuals, wanting them to be monitored and drug tested,” says Casteel, “the main objective is to keep clients productive as members of the community. We want to support these individuals by maintaining employment and treatment.”
So how does one become enrolled in Avalon’s programs? Casteel says part of the clients come from his own awareness of offenders in court dockets and determination to help put people back on the right path. Some call because of his billboard outside the courthouse in downtown Tulsa and others are given Avalon as an option by a judge. Casteel says there are 25 major attorneys in Tulsa who know the Avalon program and work with him to get clients enrolled, pending a judge’s sentencing.
“I visit with judges, attorneys and potential clients each week that are interested in our Private Pay and Day Reporting program,” Casteel says. “It’s really a win-win for everyone.”
Avalon currently has a total of 14 facilities in four states (Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Wyoming) with a central office in Oklahoma City.
For more information, visit www.avaloncorrections.com or call Casteel at (918) 812-4555.