Jail Based Substance Abuse Program Essay Research

Jail Based Substance Abuse Program Essay, Research Paper


Substance abuse and addiction have changed the nature of America’s prison

population. Alcohol, drug abusers, addicts, and those who sell illegal drugs dominate

state, 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 law


With appropriate treatment for substance abuse and addiction, rehabilitation is

possible for many of today’s prisoners. Once they leave prison they also need continuing

aftercare, education and job training. Without treatment and training, most will commit

more crimes, get arrested and go back to prison. The choice is ours as well as theirs.

Having a group counseling program consisting of 8 to 10 members and one or

more trained Chemical Dependency Counselors would be beneficial. The purpose of the

group is to provide a safe as well as a challenging place in which to work on personal and

interpersonal concerns. Members can discuss their perception of each other and receive

feedback on how others perceive them. Establishing trust allows group members to talk

openly and honestly. Groups offer opportunity to experiment with different ways of

communicating with others and a safe place to try new behaviors. They are able to give

support and understanding, offer suggestions, or gently confront the person. Counselor

and group members work together to establish trust and commitment to the group. Those

who benefit most are usually those who take an active part in the process and who allow

themselves to give and receive honest, helpful feedback.

The following is information that I obtained from Lt. Kevin Peters at California

Institute for Men.

In 1980 the State of California had 12 prisons with 32,000 inmates. Today

California 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 incarcerated

due to related alcohol and drug crimes. The average sentence is 41.4 months with inmates

serving only 21.3 months. One inmate costs taxpayers approximately $232,291.00 for

their 21.3 month incarceration, $150,000 for arrest and conviction, another $45,000 for

additional bed and $21,470 for housing per year.

CIM says 59% to 69% of the inmates are repeat offenders and have served time

before. CIM feels it is just a place to house inmates and that there is no structure for

rehabilitation. It is not their job to rehabilitate. CIM also states that the inmates have

access 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 mandatory

for them to attend and they cannot force an inmate to do so. The desire must be there for

the 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 major

contributing factor regarding their lack of interest in education. Additionally, many

inmates come from poverty backgrounds.

Why do we continue to release prisoners back to the community still using and still

dealing, to commit further crimes and threaten our well-being and that of our children

without treating the problem for which they went to prison? I feel that prisons would be

a good place to develop the rehabilitation of offenders with substance abuse. The prison

system needs to take on a mandatory substance abuse treatment program for all inmates

incarcerated due to crimes related to drug use. Continuing to fund and build more prisons

for housing offenders of drug abuse are a waste of taxpayers’ money. Our prisons are full

and the majority of inmates get early releases due to the problem of overcrowding, only to

go out and commit more crimes.

Drug addiction is a chronic disease. We treat people who have cancer, heart

problems or any other disease. Although, the addicts have committed a crime, it doesn?t

change the fact that they have a disease, we must also treat those who have the disease of


Looking over the different therapeutic community drug abuse treatment in prisons

throughout the country, we may ask, why haven’t all prisons adopted a program to treat

inmates with an addiction on a mandatory basis? We must target these institutions because

they house the parents of children and their child’s future. If the parents are setting the

example that drugs are okay and are doing time and repeated time, then what kind of

future is in store for these children?

Statistics show and prove that prisons can be a place to begin the rehabilitation of

offenders with a history of drug abuse. Inmates enter the program approximately 12 to 18

months prior to being released. Separated from the rest of the facility in a safe and clean

environment, 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 to

society without a plan. Furthermore, give them guidelines on new behaviors, dealing with

feelings, thoughts and conflicts. Learn to follow direction, acceptance of authority,

become accountable, start connecting with others and how to relate to each other. This

helps them to build trust, support, personal growth and teaches them how to make

commitments. In a therapeutic community, which is a work release facility, they learn to

cope 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 attend

NA, 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 supervised


Since drug use, violence and negative attitudes about drug abuse treatment

pervade prisons, work release centers can make rehabilitation difficult. The program

should separate participants from the rest of the correctional population. This enables

residents to create an atmosphere that encourages them to help themselves go about their

day-to-day jobs, meetings, recreational and social activities. They learn to take

responsibility for their actions, shed the negative patterns of thinking, feeling, and

behaving that contributed to their drug use. They acquire positive social attitudes and

behaviors that can help them achieve a responsible drug-free lifestyle.

The Drug Court program allows nonviolently, drug-addicted offenders to plead

guilty to charges and receive voluntary drug treatment instead of going to jail. This is a

community 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 are

subject to sanctions for failing to comply with their treatment regimens and receive

incentives for progress. If they continue to fail to comply with all the program rules’ it will

result in expulsion from the program and incarceration. “Drug courts have a strong track

record showing how the influences of the courts help drug-addicted offenders

acknowledge their addiction, get treatment, and live better lives. A study conducted for

the state of California provides the most comprehensive cost-benefit examination to date

on the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment. Examining all treatment programs in the

state, researchers concluded that every dollar spent on treatment resulted in $7.00 savings

on reduced crime and health care cost.

Although these programs are not going to work for every single individual, it will

work for some, and it becomes obvious that by not sending back just one person to

prison, we save $21,470.00 for the housing of an inmate for one year, and also giving that

individual back their life.

The bottom line is, that by having rehabilitation in prisons and using the Drug

Courts as an incentive, it pays in lower recidivism. We can reduce crime and lower cost

for incarceration. There will be fewer broken families. Thus, there will be less use of

welfare and social services. This will decrease prison crowding, and avoid new prison


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 grade

education. 78% have not completed high school. 40% cannot read and up to 80% may

have learning disabilities. We definitely have an urgent need for effective remedial

education. 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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