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Treatment Program for prisoners

Many challenges confront the criminal justice system. One major perennial question is: How can we more effectively deal with individuals who have drug and alcohol problems and are also involved in criminal activity? The complex relationships between drugs and crime have been extensively analyzed. Generally, these studies confirm that drug and alcohol abuse is associated with criminal activity.The magnitude of this problem is also indicated by the recurring finding that about 70 percent of the arrestees sampled by the Drug Use Forecasting program have tested positive for recent drug use. Such findings suggest that it is very important for criminal justice agencies working with offenders to improve their ability to impact the drug and alcohol abuse problems that undermine released inmates' chances of staying out of trouble.( Holder, H., 1991)

The focus of this evaluation will be first of all to assess the impact of the IRP with the hypothesis that inmates who graduate from this program will have less post-program criminal activity than: (a) they had in the year before their arrest, (b) those who started but did not complete the treatment program, and (c) those inmates in the control group who did not receive special drug and alcohol treatment. Secondly, an assessment of the cost effectiveness of this program will be summarized. Finally, several insights are identified that suggest ways in which future versions of this type of program could be modified to increase further the chances of implementing a more successful drug and alcohol program in a jail facility.

The IRP has evolved into a 5-week treatment program that takes place in the jail facility. When inmates are not participating in the program, they are returned to their cell blocks with the rest of the inmate population. The IRP is, therefore, identified as a day treatment model in contrast to a therapeutic community model in which clients are totally immersed in a treatment-dominated setting. The IRP also has an outpatient component for individuals after they complete the jail-based program. This is generally provided by the county drug and alcohol treatment agency and often utilizes additional private programs. During this time the individual may receive individual, family, and group counselling. The length of the outpatient care is determined case by case and usually lasts from 6 months to a year.( Wexler, 1994)

The day treatment program is devoted to providing numerous educational and therapeutic experiences. Clients are exposed to a diverse set of topics related to substance abuse and recovery. These include introduction to the disease concept, physical mechanisms of addiction, psychological mechanisms of addiction, medical consequences of drug abuse, codependency, and the relapse and recovery processes. Reading assignments are made from Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, Narcotics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and a variety of articles. Clients are expected to complete many homework assignments and share their work with the other group members. For example, clients are expected to: complete a comprehensive personal drug and alcohol history; undertake an extensive assessment of the damage done by their substance abuse; describe the typical thinking errors they employ when involved in substance abuse and criminal behavior; identify the triggers associated with their substance abuse and how they might better cope with these triggers; and develop a relapse prevention plan and a recovery plan to implement after they are released from jail. The overall thrust is to compel each client to examine his or her problematic substance abuse behavior and to initiate and support alternative ways of behaving.( Rose, 2000)

The IRP is staffed by two full-time masters-level alcohol and drug therapists and a half-time jail coordinator. The therapists run the group and individual treatment program, and the coordinator is responsible for the security issues and arranging for the volunteers to come into the jail to run the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. When the clients are back in their cell blocks, they are treated no differently than the other inmates.

Did the IRP produce more favorable recidivism statistics? We explored two levels of analysis: first, we compiled recidivism statistics for the year before the individual was arrested and became an inmate and compared them with those for the year after the individual was released from the jail. Secondly, we made comparisons of the recidivism statistics for the various research groups. The initial hypothesis is that inmates who experience the IRP will have fewer arrests and spend less time incarcerated in the year after they re-enter society than they had in the year before the arrest that made them eligible for this study

IRP graduates did, in fact, have statistically significantly (probability less than .001) fewer arrests in the year after release than for the year before entering the program . However, the other two comparison groups also compiled significantly fewer arrests in the year after release. The control group statistics show 1.25 arrests for the year after release compared to 2.70 for the year before entering the study (probability less than .001), and the IRP non-completers show 1.88 arrests for the year after release compared to 2.75 for the year prior to entering the study (probability less than .05). All subjects, therefore, experienced a lower level of criminal arrests. All of the research groups also spent less time incarcerated in the year after being released than they had in the year before becoming an inmate and subject in this research project. The IRP graduates, for example, spent 30 percent of the days in the pre-program year incarcerated but only 7 percent of the post-program year (corresponding statistics are 25 percent for the control group pre-program year to 10 percent for the post-program year and 25 percent for the IRP non-completers in the pre-program year to 15 percent for the post-program.

This leads to two recommendations on how to increase the effectiveness of future IRP-like programs. One suggestion is to do more screening in order to select individuals who are most likely to be successful in this short-term substance abuse treatment program. Secondly, if the higher risk, more criminally oriented are accepted into this type of program, then one should probably increase the level and time of therapeutic intervention. The very successful Cornerstone model of intervention (therapeutic community), developed in a prison context, could be explored to see how a shortened version of it might be adapted to the jail setting. Finally, we discovered that those who were successful were much more likely to have completed the post-release aftercare component of the treatment program. This leads to the recommendation to expend special efforts to increase the proportion of inmates who follow through with after care and thereby solidify the gains made during the in-jail treatment program.( Peters, 1997)

Social conflict theory tells how structural factors in society affect rates of using drug. Conflict theory looks that there are more numbers of chronic drug abusers found in disorganized neighbourhoods, low-income families, lower social classes, and politically powerless places. There are many of all four of these in the U.S., and has nationwide trends. The disappearance of paying manual work since the early 1970s comes up with unskilled, uneducated peoples vulnerable to poverty . Secondly, populations of widely impoverished members of the society concentrated in the inner city of America, an underclass phenomenon, at about the same time, those people who left the cities, they began to acquire more increasing wealth. Selling drugs, is an alternative to enduring grinding poverty, has become a common, i.e enough response as the gap of income has widened.

Illegal distribution of drug spreads widely in a neighbourhood atmosphere of political decline and community disorganization. Lack of community identity and a large number of abandoned buildings are used as the purposes of drug distributors. These neighbourhoods looses access to the political influence that ought to clean up streets and increase protection by the police.Finally, as a result of the above developments, impoverished residents of lower social classes learn feelings of anomie hopelessness.

Similarly this theory is applied on the prisoners. There are different groups and classes of prisoners. The Lo, Celia prisoners or group of prisoners from these low social groups or so are more addicts and are more familiar with illegal usage and sources of drugs.( Lo, Celia, 2003)


Holder, H., Longbaugh, R., Miller, W., & Rubonis, A. (1991). The cost effectiveness of treatment for alcoholism. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 52(6), 517-540.

Peters, R.H., Kerns, W.D., Murin, M.R., Dolente, A.S., & May, R.L. (1997). Examining the effectiveness of in-jail substance abuse treatment. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 19(3/4)

Rose., Falkin, G.P.,. (2000). Outcome evaluation of prison therapeutic community for substance abuse treatment. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 17(1), 71-92.

Wexler, H.K., Falkin, G.P., Lipton, D.S., & Rosenblum, A.B. (1994). Progress in prison substance abuse treatment: A five year