Cuts will do away with 'lifesaving' program

Drug treatment facility give addicts chance to change their lives

Published On: Jul 24 2012 03:39:43 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 24 2012 03:43:34 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

City budget cuts will not only cost the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office jobs, they will also do away with one program some say is lifesaving.

The owners of one restaurant in Marietta say it's a drug treatment facility in the Duval County jail that brought their business to life. And they say budget cuts by the city could end similar success stories.

"It's very important," Arden Desaussure said. "Without it, people are going to die. Without it, I would not be here."

Ten years ago, Desaussure and her partner Michelle Weaver met at the Matrix House in the Duval County jail. Both were serving time for drug and alcohol convictions.

After their release, they pooled resources and opened their restaurant. They now hire people who've been in the program, and both say they were devastated to hear it's been chopped in the budget.

The sheriff says he will close the Community Transition Center, which is where the Matrix House operates, and will lay off 58 corrections officers who staff the facilities.

"Through the Matrix House, we have become members of society, productive members of society," Desaussure said. "We paid taxes for the last 10 years, and we have been sober for the last 10 years -- the most important thing."

"If there was not something in place when I went to jail, I would not be standing here today," Weaver said.

She said she benefited from the program and would not mind paying higher taxes to see programs like it kept in place, because she said without it, things are going to get worse for Jacksonville.

"You might not see any result right now, but six months down the road when these addicts or alcoholics are going to jail, you know your crime is going to get worse here," Weaver said. "They are not being offered that chance to change their lives. It's going to be a repeat vicious cycle for them."