Cook and a Residential Substance Abuse Treatment grant manager from Jackson will represent the state at the RSAT Diverse Training Conference to be held Aug. 8-11 in Boston, Mass.
Cited for it’s impressive recidivism rate of 5 percent, Cook will represent Mississippi as one of only 20 states invited to the conference.
“It feels great to be recognized — not only myself, but also the great staff that make our program a success,” said Cook. “There are a lot of obstacles in this line of work, but it feels good to be able to obtain such a low recidivism rate.”
Cook, who has worked with the program since 2006, has helped keep the rate lower than any other Mississippi Department of Corrections drug and alcohol program.
The platform also received good news recently when its RSAT grant was awarded for another year by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety Planning.
“We are unique because we answer to four different entities,” said Cook. “We work with the county, MDOC, RSAT — which is federally funded — and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.
“Our alcohol and drug program is the only one in Mississippi certified by the Department of Mental Health.
“It’s certainly can be challenging meeting the guidelines of all these entities, but it’s an honor as the director to see our program achieve that.”
The treatment inmates receive in the program helps them find a path to substance abuse recovery and prepares them for returning to life outside the facility.
Participants are exposed to the 12 Step Recovery Principals and learn basic recovery skills and behavior modifications.
Offenders are also instructed in anger management, life skills, parenting skills, relapse prevention, stress management and spirituality.
Part of Cook’s goal for attending the conference is to learn from other drug and alcohol programs from across the nation.
“We do a good job with a staff of five serving 100 people enrolled in our program,” she said. “But I’m excited to learn what other states are doing and see what’s new from RSAT. We can come away with a lot of new ideas to grow and do better.”
Bolivar County Sheriff Kelvin Williams said Cook and her crew deserve high praise for their dedication to the treatment.
“It’s always good to see a program at our facility receive top honors from the state, and now at the national level,” said Williams. “It speaks a lot to the leadership in place.”
BCRCF Warden James Moore echoed the praise.
“Ms. Cook makes sure these inmates receive good treatment and she helps keep the recidivism rate low,” said Moore. “We are very proud of her success.”
Cook stressed the inmates are trained in many areas, including a GED program and literacy class.
“It’s about building these people up so they are prepared when they are released,” she said. “We want them to be successful, promote change and help prepare them for life outside the correction system — so they can stay at home again.”