A recent evaluation sponsored by the National Institute of Justice indicates that the greatest immediate benefit of jail drug treatment programs is to provide a behavioral management tool that controls inmate behavior.
The evaluation design comprised two components. The first component involved detailed descriptions and analyses of five drug treatment programs: (1) Jail Education and Treatment; (2) Deciding, Educating, Understanding, Counseling, and Evaluation; (3) Rebuilding, Educating, Awareness, Counseling, and Hope; (4) Substance Abuse Intervention Division; and (5) New Beginnings. The first three programs are in California, while the last two are in New York. The second component assessed program completion rates for participants, as well as 12-month post-release outcomes. The five programs recognized length of stay as a challenge to participation, which was voluntary. About one-third of program participants were white, more than one-third were black, and one-fourth were Hispanic. Participants also differed in educational level, employment history, marital status, self-report drug and alcohol use patterns, and prior drug treatment participation. All programs addressed recovery from physical, psychological, emotional, and social perspectives and offered traditional drug treatment services, including counseling and self-help groups. Although treatment providers recognized the importance of integrated post-custody services, formal aftercare links were limited. The programs had modest positive effects in reducing recidivism within 1 year of jail release; 17 percent of the treatment group and 23 percent of the comparison group were re-convicted at least once during the 1-year follow-up period, most for property or drug crimes. Considering their limitations, however, the programs had potential for greater success. Limitations included weak or non-existent aftercare, mismatches between program length and time incarcerated, budget constraints, and training issues. The authors recommend that future evaluation studies include a 2-year follow-up period.
Date Published: June 1, 1997