Jail Based Substance Abuse Program

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Substance abuse and addiction have changed the nature of America’s prisonpopulation. Alcohol, drug abusers, addicts, and those who sell illegal drugs dominatestate, federal prisons and local jails. Crime and alcohol and drug abuse go hand in hand. Much of the growth in America’s inmate population is due to incarceration of drug lawviolators.

With appropriate treatment for substance abuse and addiction, rehabilitation ispossible for many of today’s prisoners. Once they leave prison they also need continuingaftercare, education and job training. Without treatment and training, most will commitmore crimes, get arrested and go back to prison. The choice is ours as well as theirs.

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Having a group counseling program consisting of 8 to 10 members and one ormore trained Chemical Dependency Counselors would be beneficial. The purpose of thegroup is to provide a safe as well as a challenging place in which to work on personal andinterpersonal concerns. Members can discuss their perception of each other and receivefeedback on how others perceive them. Establishing trust allows group members to talkopenly and honestly.

Groups offer opportunity to experiment with different ways ofcommunicating with others and a safe place to try new behaviors. They are able to givesupport and understanding, offer suggestions, or gently confront the person. Counselorand group members work together to establish trust and commitment to the group. Thosewho benefit most are usually those who take an active part in the process and who allowthemselves to give and receive honest, helpful feedback.

The following is information that I obtained from Lt. Kevin Peters at CaliforniaInstitute for Men. In 1980 the State of California had 12 prisons with 32,000 inmates. TodayCalifornia has 33 prisons with 144,00 inmates. California Institution for Men (CIM)houses 6,500 of these inmates. Over 90% of the inmates at CIM are being incarcerateddue to related alcohol and drug crimes. The average sentence is 41.4 months with inmatesserving only 21.3 months. One inmate costs taxpayers approximately $232,291.00 fortheir 21.3 month incarceration, $150,000 for arrest and conviction, another $45,000 foradditional bed and $21,470 for housing per year.

CIM says 59% to 69% of the inmates are repeat offenders and have served timebefore. CIM feels it is just a place to house inmates and that there is no structure forrehabilitation. It is not their job to rehabilitate. CIM also states that the inmates haveaccess to programs, such as AA, NA and Control of Substance Abuse for Mental Health.

CIM feels that if an inmate wants to attend a program, it is available. It is not mandatoryfor them to attend and they cannot force an inmate to do so. The desire must be there forthe inmate. Most inmates do not attend these programs since they are not mandatory. Most of the inmates dropped out of school due to substance abuse, the majorcontributing factor regarding their lack of interest in education. Additionally, manyinmates come from poverty backgrounds.

Why do we continue to release prisoners back to the community still using and stilldealing, to commit further crimes and threaten our well-being and that of our childrenwithout treating the problem for which they went to prison? I feel that prisons would bea good place to develop the rehabilitation of offenders with substance abuse. The prisonsystem needs to take on a mandatory substance abuse treatment program for all inmatesincarcerated due to crimes related to drug use. Continuing to fund and build more prisonsfor housing offenders of drug abuse are a waste of taxpayers’ money. Our prisons are fulland the majority of inmates get early releases due to the problem of overcrowding, only togo out and commit more crimes.

Drug addiction is a chronic disease. We treat people who have cancer, heartproblems or any other disease. Although, the addicts have committed a crime, it doesntchange the fact that they have a disease, we must also treat those who have the disease ofaddiction.

Looking over the different therapeutic community drug abuse treatment in prisonsthroughout the country, we may ask, why haven’t all prisons adopted a program to treatinmates with an addiction on a mandatory basis? We must target these institutions becausethey house the parents of children and their child’s future. If the parents are setting theexample that drugs are okay and are doing time and repeated time, then what kind offuture is in store for these children? Statistics show and prove that prisons can be a place to begin the rehabilitation ofoffenders with a history of drug abuse.

Inmates enter the program approximately 12 to 18months prior to being released. Separated from the rest of the facility in a safe and cleanenvironment, they must obey all rules of the facility, be instructed on the rational model,have a structure to follow, and be taught new skills so as they will not return back tosociety without a plan. Furthermore, give them guidelines on new behaviors, dealing withfeelings, thoughts and conflicts.

Learn to follow direction, acceptance of authority,become accountable, start connecting with others and how to relate to each other. Thishelps them to build trust, support, personal growth and teaches them how to makecommitments. In a therapeutic community, which is a work release facility, they learn tocope without being in a secure environment and reenter society with a healthy outlook.

They will continue to receive care and education about their addiction. They will attendNA, CA, AA and other programs that help them in their course of treatment. They need to be participating in counseling and group therapy for an additional six(6) months after they leave work release, while they are on parole or other supervisedrelease.

Since drug use, violence and negative attitudes about drug abuse treatmentpervade prisons, work release centers can make rehabilitation difficult. The programshould separate participants from the rest of the correctional population. This enablesresidents to create an atmosphere that encourages them to help themselves go about theirday-to-day jobs, meetings, recreational and social activities. They learn to takeresponsibility for their actions, shed the negative patterns of thinking, feeling, andbehaving that contributed to their drug use. They acquire positive social attitudes andbehaviors that can help them achieve a responsible drug-free lifestyle.

The Drug Court program allows nonviolently, drug-addicted offenders to pleadguilty to charges and receive voluntary drug treatment instead of going to jail. This is acommunity based sentencing and treatment program for those arrested for drug crimes. Drug Courts use drug testing to ensure that program participants stay drug-free. They aresubject to sanctions for failing to comply with their treatment regimens and receiveincentives for progress. If they continue to fail to comply with all the program rules’ it willresult in expulsion from the program and incarceration. ”

Drug courts have a strong trackrecord showing how the influences of the courts help drug-addicted offendersacknowledge their addiction, get treatment, and live better lives. A study conducted forthe state of California provides the most comprehensive cost-benefit examination to dateon the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment. Examining all treatment programs in thestate, researchers concluded that every dollar spent on treatment resulted in $7.00 savingson reduced crime and health care cost.

Although these programs are not going to work for every single individual, it willwork for some, and it becomes obvious that by not sending back just one person toprison, we save $21,470.00 for the housing of an inmate for one year, and also giving thatindividual back their life.

The bottom line is, that by having rehabilitation in prisons and using the DrugCourts as an incentive, it pays in lower recidivism. We can reduce crime and lower costfor incarceration. There will be fewer broken families. Thus, there will be less use ofwelfare and social services. This will decrease prison crowding, and avoid new prisonconstruction. I feel that we also need to improve on remedial education within the prison system.

California correctional survey reports, 19% of state inmates have less than an 8th gradeeducation. 78% have not completed high school. 40% cannot read and up to 80% mayhave learning disabilities. We definitely have an urgent need for effective remedialeducation. Also, we need to teach job skills that would be beneficial to each individual.

The final outcomes of rehabilitation, are discipline, drug and alcohol treatment, education,employment, restitution, community service and counseling, which will benefit inmates. This will help them to create a better life when released.

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Jail Based Substance Abuse Program. (2019, Feb 17). Retrieved from


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