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Prison-Based Programming: What It Can Do and Why It Is Needed

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 64 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2002 Pages: 66-71,83
Daniel P. Mears; Sarah Lawrence; Amy L. Solomon; Michelle Waul
Date Published
This article explains the necessity for more prison-based programming and why it is crucial for both offenders and the community.
The authors begin by explaining that even as the United States prison population has grown, prison-based treatment programs have declined in number. Programs such as educational, mental health and drug treatment, vocational training, and pre-release training have only been reaching a minority of the prison population. The article explains that effective prison-based programming is important because it helps to maintain order and stability in prisons, reduces criminal behavior, and has the potential to improve the lives of ex-offenders and their families as well as the community to which they return upon release. Despite the benefits of prison-based programming, recent statistics have indicated that although 80 percent of inmates have histories of substance abuse and 16 percent suffer from mental health disorders, only one-third of the prison population has received substance abuse or mental health treatment while incarcerated. The authors point out that many inmates have limited education and poor employment skills, both of which increase the chances of recidivism. In fact, research has shown that the majority of released prisoners are rearrested within 3 years of release. Thus, the authors contend that effective and successful prison-based programming is a necessity both to the offenders and their families and to the communities into which they are released. Notes