R.I.S.E. Program

Recovery In a Secure Environment




The RISE program is an example of Sheriff Wade’s commitment to assisting inmates with Substance Abuse Addictions in the Henrico Jails. To understand how the RISE Program was started, you need to know about Sheriff Wade.

Sheriff Wade attended VCU part time for 15 years, while working as a Henrico Police Officer and Investigator from June of 1975 until December of 1990. Sheriff Wade graduated with a BS in Administration of Justice and a MS in Rehabilitation Counseling/ Alcohol, Drug, Education and Rehabilitation Program (ADERP). In April of 1985, his father passed away and the cause of death listed on death certificate was “Alcoholic Liver.” The following September, he registered for what he thought was an easy elective, “Introduction to Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation.” In one of the classes at the beginning of the semester, the movie Medical Aspects of Alcoholism was shown. Sheriff Wade had denied that Alcoholism was the cause of his father’s death. The movie however, showed all of the medical issues his father encountered as he suffered in bed for over a year.

Medical Aspects of Alcoholism was a life changing revelation for Sheriff Wade. The next semester, he took an additional class in the Rehabilitation field and when he graduated in May of 1986 started in the Master’s Program (ADERP) in June of 1986. Sheriff Wade was the first, Law Enforcement Officer ever enrolled in the ADERP Program. Being a Police Investigator in a Drug Rehab Program created a unique problem, none of Rehab Programs wanted a Police Officer to work in their facilities, the counselors believed, his presence would jeopardize the client’s confidentiality.

When it came time for an extensive internship, placement for Sheriff Wade was difficult. Sheriff Wade learned of Seafield 911 in Davie, Florida. Seafield 911 only treated police officers and correctional officers. In the summer of 1990, Seafield 911 allowed Sheriff Wade to live in their treatment center for six weeks to complete his internship. This gives Sheriff Wade a unique perspective of living and working in a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center.

In 2000, when Sheriff Wade took office, one of his goals was to create an alcohol and drug treatment program in the jail. The RISE Program was born in August 2000, when 20 inmates who were taking a class (Life Without a Crutch) were moved in to a dayroom at jail East to work together on their individual addictions. It was amazing how the inmates craved the opportunity to address their addictions.

When the program started, Sheriff Wade was told that inmates would not work together and they would not volunteer for a treatment program. Within in 30 days of starting the program there was a waiting list of 60 inmates to participate. Mental Health was instructed to develop a schedule of programing for six weeks. Copying from 28 Day model, if an inmate entered the program at any time and stayed 60 days they would receive all the lessons. In addition to staff, the inmates had a huge impact on developing the program. To this day if you ask the inmates, “Whose program is this?” They respond, “Ours.”

In addition to the programs, the inmates also developed a list of rules they must follow. These rules far exceed the discipline required of general population. The inmates ownership and desire to improve their lives has made the RISE Program the best disciplined dayrooms in the Henrico Jail system.

Next problem came when inmates completed the 60 days and did not want to go back to general population. The reasons stated were, they had gained so much from the positive environment in the RISE Program and they did not to want to be around the negative attitudes of the inmates in other areas of the jail. It was not difficult for Sheriff Wade to request a second phase be created to expand their knowledge on addiction. Eventually a third phase was created where inmates completing the program could remain together as they began participating in education and work programs in the jail.

One of the significate improvement and success of RISE was the introduction at the request of inmates to AA and NA. The AA and NA communities were allowed to bring meeting into jail. The program which Sheriff Wade believes had the biggest impact was Back to the Basics. Back to the Basics, teaches how the steps of AA work and was introduced to the jail by a member of AA who was in a long term recovery. As the Back to Basics Program continued, it was decided that it could be taught by inmates in the later phases of RISE to those in the first phase.

With the inmates able to successfully instruct Back to the Basics, the senior inmates in program began to teach and lead discussions in other areas of the program. Two principals of AA are to give back and to learn from teaching, have played a significant role in the success of RISE and in individual participants.

NA’s introduction brought the much needed connection to drug users in recovery and hope for those with drug addiction. NA also brought the opportunity for housing and assistance upon release.

The women’s RISE program, started in March of 2001. Much of same classes are taught in women’s program but additional classes were added to address the needs of the women.

Annually over 1,000 inmates enter the RISE Program. To date it is estimated over 15,000 individuals have been touched by the RISE Program. The originally 20 beds expanded to 300 beds. Any given day one fourth of the Henrico Jail inmate population is involved in the RISE Program. Sheriff Wade shared the RISE Program with Richmond City Jail which is called the Belief Program.

Through national association by Sheriff Wade, the RISE Program is doing well in the Denver City Jail.

Sheriff Wade is the Co-chair of the American Correctional Association’s Substance Abuse Committee.