The federal court system yesterday removed federal parolees receiving drug treatment at Hope Village, a private social service agency in the District, because a surprise inspection showed the men were using marijuana, according to sources in the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
The U.S. Probation Office removed six federal parolees who were living in Hope Village's eight-bed drug detoxication unit and sent a letter to agency owner Joan Sutton to begin a review to terminate the government's $68 per person per day contract with the facility.
"The reason we're withdrawing them is that we reinspected and found evidence of marijuana use by residents," said an official of the Administrative Office, who asked not be named. "We collected some surprise urine specimens that showed drug use by residents."
The parolees have completed enough of the program to be considered "not addicted," according to the court official, and will continue to be monitored by probation officers.
Drug problems have surfaced at Hope Village before. Last August the federal court system threatened to end its contract with Hope Village after an inspection found aides and residents selling and using drugs. At that time, the federal government found the program "unacceptable," saying that residents were transported by aides to Georgetown and elsewhere to buy cocaine, heroin and PCP.
After Sutton fired nine employes, the $165,000 contract was kept in place and renewed last October.
Sutton did not return several telephone calls. Earlier, Sutton said that previous problems with drug use at Hope Village were corrected. "We have stopped all off-grounds programs," she said. "These programs are monitored very carefully."
The new review of the contract will take several weeks, officials said.
In a related matter, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which holds two contracts with Hope Village for halfway house services for white-collar criminals, is working on an "internal investigation" of the facility, bureau spokeswoman Kathy Morse said.
Morse said the investigation was sparked by reports by The Washington Post and WJLA-TV of Hope Village's history of poor inspections by city licensing officials.
The Bureau of Prisons pays for housing and counseling for 95 to 100 men and women, many of whom work in outside employment during the day and return to Hope Village to serve their criminal sentences. According to federal records, the Bureau first signed a contract with Hope Village in May, 1982. Under its 1985 contract, the bureau pays Hope Village $34 per day per resident.