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Overview of Drug Treatment Programs in Prison

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 1991
This overview of drug treatment programs in prison considers the need for such programs, drug treatment techniques used in prison, the effectiveness of such treatment, and its costs and benefits.

Estimates of lifetime drug users among the inmate population range from 80 percent to 87 percent (Innes, 1988; Fredlund, Spence, Maxwell, and Kavinshky, 1990). Moreover, a large percentage of inmates in prison for drug violations are currently using drugs and have recidivated. Drug treatment in prison is a policy alternative for alleviating the risks posed by this population. There are effective drug treatment programs nationwide, but they are not available to large numbers of offenders; currently, only 11.1 percent of offenders in State facilities nationwide are receiving any type of drug treatment (Chaiken, 1989). The types of treatment programs offered in prison involve some combination of counseling, education, and referral to community services. Treatment formats include the therapeutic community; milieu treatment; counseling, education, and referral; and shock incarceration with drug treatment. Evaluations of a small percentage of programs show that time in treatment is significantly related to success; a program length of 9-12 months is related to time to arrest and positive parole discharge. Findings show that the reduction in crime-related costs due to effective drug treatment is at least as large as the cost of treatment (Hubbard, et.al., 1989). 20 references

Date Published: February 1, 1991