U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners: Implementation Lessons Learned

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2003
29 pages
This report summarizes the results of a National Evaluation of the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) for State Prisoners Formula Grant Program created by the U.S. Congress to encourage States to develop substance abuse treatment programs for incarcerated offenders; process evaluations were conducted for 12 local sites across the country.
RSAT grants may be used to establish or expand substance abuse treatment programs for inmates in residential facilities operated by State and local correctional agencies. To receive RSAT funding, programs must be 6 to 12 months in duration; provide residential facilities that are set apart from the general correctional population; be devoted to substance abuse treatment; teach inmates the social, behavioral, and vocational skills to resolve substance abuse problems; and require drug and alcohol testing. States are also required to give preference to programs that provide aftercare services. All of the Nation's States and Territories have RSAT programs. By March 2001, more than 2,000 programs were in place. The national evaluation shows that RSAT has been responsible for substantial increases in the availability of treatment slots for offenders with substance abuse problems, as well as increases in the number of staff trained to treat them. During the 2-year evaluation, more than 13,000 inmate were admitted to RSAT programs. About 70 percent of the programs targeted adult offenders; the rest targeted juveniles. The programs experienced some start-up difficulties in locating and building facilities, recruiting trained staff, and contracting with treatment providers; pre-existing programs did better in these areas. Although research has shown that aftercare leads to a reduction in recidivism rates, less than half of RSAT programs were able to implement an aftercare component, largely because RSAT funds can be used only for residential treatment for offenders in custody. Many RSAT programs combined elements of one or more treatment types; these combinations, however, have not been evaluated and may lead to a reduction in the intensity of treatment. Those who should profit from these evaluation findings are corrections officials; substance abuse treatment providers; and Federal, State, and local policymakers. 11 notes and appended summaries of completed local evaluations

Date Published: April 1, 2003