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Specialized Prisons and Services: Results From a National Survey

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 87 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2007 Pages: 58-85
Karen L. Cropsey; Harry K. Wexler; Gerald Melnick; Faye S. Taxman; Douglas W. Young
Date Published
March 2007
28 pages
This paper examines the results from the National Criminal Justice Treatment Practices survey to describe types of services provided by three types of prisons: those serving a cross-section of offenders, those specializing in serving offenders with special psychosocial and medical needs, and those specializing in serving legal status or gender specific populations.
About half of the surveyed prisons were considered specialized and this group was divided into service-oriented (psychosocial, substance abuse, mental health, and medical) and more functional population specialization (other) related to structural and process aspects of incarceration, such as work release, parole violators, youth, and females. Most prisons report a surprising overall number and types of services, including assessment and treatment services offered. The services provided ranged from requisite medical to faith-based or spiritual services. In examining the survey data on substance abuse treatment services, it was determined that the nature of the services provided was inadequate compared to the needs of the offender. The study also found that the prisons reported offering assessments and physical health services to more than half of the inmates. However, fewer than half of the offenders received counseling. The challenge faced by prisons is trying to identify these needs and then having the resources to put in place programs and services that can assist the offender to be more productive when reentering society. The survey findings suggest that small implementation steps have been taken to advance prisons in that direction. A recent survey from the National Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Studies (CJ-DATS), National Criminal Justice Treatment Practices survey, which surveys prison administrators, sheds light on the capacity of a nationally representative sample of prisons to provide needed medical, psychological, and social services for offenders. The survey also allows for an analysis of the organizational factors that may affect whether a prison will provide the needed services. Tables, references