Break the Cycle of Drug Use, Crime, Delinquency, and Incarceration

Principle 3. Use Community Corrections Programs to Monitor and Support Drug-Involved Offenders

Testing and Sanctions

In 2009, the rate of current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 to 49 on probation was more than double that of the population not on probation. Large caseloads for probation officers and judges, combined with the low priority given to service of warrants for probation violations, have made compliance with probation an ongoing challenge, resulting in compliance failure rates of approximately 40 percent.

Over the past year, several jurisdictions in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Oregon, and Virginia have begun implementing models similar to Project HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement). Probationers in HOPE receive swift, predictable, and immediate sanctions for each detected violation, such as detected drug use or missed appointments with a probation officer. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is piloting the HOPE approach and will be assessing whether the same benefits and successes found in Hawaii are realized in California.

Treatment in Prison

Though many of the criminal justice innovations for offenders with substance abuse problems are focused on diversion, drug courts, and alternatives to incarceration, incarceration may, in some cases, be the appropriate response to an offender’s criminal activity. However, it is important that treatment and other services are provided during incarceration. One way the Federal government is addressing this issue is through BJA’s Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) program for state prisoners. The RSAT program helps states, tribes, and local governments provide residential substance abuse treatment to inmates and prepare offenders for their reintegration into the community. The program incorporates reentry planning activities into treatment programs, and encourages the use of community-based treatment and other broad-based aftercare services upon release.

New Action Item: Improve and Advance Substance Abuse Treatment in Prisons [DOJ/BOP, ONDCP, DOJ/OJP/BJA, HHS/SAMHSA and DOJ/NIC]

In 2011, BOP will work with BJA and NIC to ensure evidence-based treatment services are provided to Federal prisoners. BJA and SAMHSA will also provide training and technical assistance to state RSAT programs with the intent of maximizing the use of evidence-based substance abuse treatment and aftercare for inmates in need of such treatment. New training curricula, incorporating the latest evidence based practices and aftercare research, will be available through a website. This will advance the field of residential substance abuse treatment for current grantees, as well as for directors, key correctional personnel, and treatment providers implementing or planning to implement residential treatment. 

Principle 4. Create Supportive Communities to Sustain Recovery for the Reentry Population

Preventing Recidivism by Supporting Reentry and Recovery

The Administration is committed to expanding reentry services for offenders returning to their communities. In order to reduce their chances of committing new crimes, ex-offenders must be provided with an assortment of support services, ranging from education to accessible housing. Providing these individuals with an array of critical support services prepares them for reentry into society and helps them restore their lives.

A recently established Federal Interagency Reentry Council coordinates Federal efforts and resources and seeks to eliminate the barriers to recovery and stability that many offenders face when they are released. For 2011, HUD proposes a 2-year demonstration pilot, Project Reunite, involving 6 to 10 Public Housing Authorities. This project will support the successful reunification of formerly incarcerated or chronically homeless men and women with their families, and will offer the wrap-around support needed to help them avoid reoffending while becoming both social and economic assets to their family and community. (Action Item 4.4C)

In addition, in 2011, the Department of Labor will fund its fourth round of the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders - Adult Program grants designed to strengthen urban communities through an employment- centered program that incorporates mentoring, job training, and other comprehensive transitional services. This program seeks to reduce recidivism by helping former inmates find work when they return to their communities. (Action Item 4.4D)

In October 2010, under the Second Chance Act, the Department of Justice awarded $100 million to 187 grantees. The grants have gone to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, and other services that improve reentry to society and reduce recidivism. (Action Item 4.4A)

In 2011, in collaboration with BJA and the National Reentry Resource Center, ONDCP will facilitate family-based treatment training and technical assistance to the BJA’s Second Chance Act Family-Based Prisoner Substance Abuse Treatment Program grantees.

SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), through its Offender Reentry Program, awarded 18 grants in FY 2010 to organizations that seek to enhance substance abuse treatment and reentry services to juvenile and adult offenders returning to the community from incarceration. These grants require grantees to plan, develop, and provide a transition from incarceration to community-based substance abuse treatment and related reentry services for the reentering population. This funding provides for existing reentry programs to be expanded and evaluated.

Picture: Women use computers, receive support services at The Next Door Residential Transition Center

The Next Door Chattanooga

The Next Door Residential Transition Center (RTC opened in June of 2010, serves women who are ending their incarceration through services, including transitional housing, recovery support services, individual and group counseling, workforce development, and case management services. The RTC has the capacity to serve up to 16 women at a time. The structured curriculum of the RTC provides job preparation, readiness, communication skills, and conflict management to support retention and career planning. The Chattanooga location builds on the success of The Next Door Nashville, a faith-based, residential reentry program that has helped more than 800 women exiting the criminal justice system to rebuild their lives. Leigh Ann, a recent graduate says, “The Next Door gave me structure and taught me how to live, not just survive. I was given all the tools I needed to start my new life, and people who wanted to see me succeed helped me use those tools.” The dramatic difference in re-arrest rates tells the story: women completing the program have a 14 percent re-arrest rate, compared to a nationwide estimate of 67 percent.105 In addition to the RTC, The Next Door Chattanooga has also opened Tennessee’s first ever Release Center, which provides transitional housing and services for up to 30 currently incarcerated female offenders. Eligible offenders who are within 90 to 120 days of release receive residential, on-site case management services and release-readiness programming that addresses the specific needs of the offender, including employment readiness, life skills, cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse support, and family reunification services. Seed money for The Next Door Chattanooga (as well as a program in Knoxville) was provided through a grant to the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programming, which was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds are used to pay for three staff members—the Program Manager, the Case Manager, and the Counselor—in each city.

Annual Recidivism Studies

While there have been individual studies on particular criminal justice programs to determine rates of recidivism, given the number of state and local criminal justice systems, it is difficult to accurately assess recidivism rates on a national scale. To develop effective strategies for reducing recidivism among drug offenders, we must first determine the extent to which released offenders reenter the system. This requires better data from state and Federal corrections institutions. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) currently funds the Criminal History Record Information Sharing Project, which provides BJS with a secure system to automate and standardize the collection of criminal history records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and state criminal history repositories. Over the past year, it has made some impressive improvements to advance the collection of data. In 2011, BJS will take another significant step by converting state-specific criminal history data on prisoners released in 2005 from approximately 30 states into a single research database that supports national-level recidivism analysis. The results of this study are expected to be available in 2012. This new data collection process will ensure a more comprehensive analysis of recidivism and advance the development of a national recidivism study. (Action Item 4.4E)

Safer Foundation

For over three decades, the Safer Foundation has used innovative and proven methods to support formerly incarcerated individuals and help them find gainful employment. Headquartered in Chicago with 20 facilities throughout Illinois and eastern Iowa, the Safer Foundation offers a wide range of services to exoffenders and incarcerated persons, including juvenile and adult probationers and parolees, community corrections residents, and persons in the county jail. One of their programs, Safer Return, is a community-based reentry initiative that seeks to engage the entire community in positively affecting prisoner reentry and reducing recidivism. The initiative is a collaborative effort of community members, law enforcement, service providers, businesses, and participants. As part of the program, community members and parole officers visit offenders while they are still in prison to begin reentry planning. Reentry coaches work with clients on a range of important issues, such as physical health, substance abuse treatment, housing, and employment. The Illinois Department of Corrections provides specially trained, community-based parole officers who partner with Safer Return coaches. The Safer Foundation conducted a 3-year study and found that clients who attain employment have a recidivism rate of 18 percent, which is a marked contrast from the State of Illinois average of 52 percent.

Principle 5. Improve Treatment for Youth Involved with the Juvenile Justice System

Juvenile Justice

To prevent young people from cycling through the juvenile justice system or entering the adult criminal justice system, early intervention and evidence-based approaches are critical. Youth should be screened and treated not only for substance use problems, but also for unmet emotional, behavioral, and academic needs.

Juvenile drug courts are one response; however, the model has not proven as effective for juveniles as for adults. Over the past several years, OJJDP, and CSAT, through a public/private partnership, worked with a number of existing juvenile drug courts to improve the model by implementing best practices for adolescent treatment. In addition, CSAT and OJJDP partnered to support juvenile courts and juvenile drug courts in enhancing their capacity through the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referrals to Treatment (SBIRT) program. This program enables the courts to use a short, non-intensive intervention, which helps identify the most appropriate referrals and admissions criteria for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

In 2011, OJJDP will continue providing training and technical assistance to further expand the use of best practices for adolescent treatment and SBIRT for both juvenile court systems and juvenile drug courts. (Action Item 4.5A)