WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF)

If you’ve ever passed The Lee Day Report Center on 16th Street in Wheeling and wondered what it’s all about, you’re not alone.

Located in the former Social Security Building, people still stop in to ask about their benefits.

They are politely told the Social Security office has moved to Warwood.

The Lee Day Report Center offers programming for people who are criminal offenders who have substance abuse issues.

It was borne out of the ideas of two people–Martin Gaughan and the now retired Chief Probation Officer James Lee.

There are now 35 Day Report Centers in West Virginia, four in the northern panhandle.

They provide intensive counseling and classes, four hours a day, five days a week, and lasting six months or a year.

Subjects include problem solving, living in balance, criminal conduct and substance abuse, and relapse prevention.

Clients are often sent by the adult drug court program, magistrate or circuit court.

Upon entering the program, they do an assessment of the person’s addiction severity and their likelihood of reoffending. 

Then they determine the type of program to put them in. 

The goal is to get them living back in society, drug-free and with jobs and skills.

They do re-entry programs for parolees who have just come out of prison.

It began as a pilot program in Hancock County in 2001, and the philosophy of community corrections has grown and gained ground ever since.

The idea was to save money on the regional jail bills and reduce the population in jails and prisons.

Executive Director Fred McDonald said he is convinced the concept works, although it’s not for everyone.

For those who sincerely work the program, he says they graduate with a “coining out” ceremony and skills to lead productive lives.

For others, it’s too intense, and some people even choose to remain in jail rather than to get out early and go to a day report center. 

But he said many who graduate come back to stop in, say hello and let them know how they’re doing.

He said those who successfully complete the program have a much lower rate of reoffending than those who don’t.