Prison-based drug treatment
Since retribution replaced rehabilitation as the dominant sentencing philosophy, prison populations have climbed dramatically while crime has continued unabated. A strong belief that corrections could not rehabilitate offenders is often fueled by research studies that essentially conclude that "nothing works"...
Looking for ways to reduce reincidence and force to recognise the close connection between substance abuse and crime, correctional authorities have begun expanding prison-based drug treatment programs. In contrast to the viewpoint that nothing works in rehabilitation, the efficacy of a policy of expanding drug treatment for prisoners and parolees can now be measured by the success rate in preventing patients' return to criminal behavior.
The tests had shown that combining criminal justice sanctions with drug treatment can be effective in decreasing drug use and related crime, especially because individuals under legal coercion tend to stay in drug treatment for a longer period of time and do as well as or better than others not under legal pressure. Another point of view is represented by the fact that prison-based treatment including a therapeutic community setting, a work release therapeutic community and community-based aftercare, in which the drug treatment continues when the client leaves prison, reduces the probability of rearrest and the likelihood of returning to drug use.
The main key for prison-based drug treatment is represented by the therapeutic community, a self-contained treatment environment separated from the drugs and violence often found in prisons. The therapeutic community model is based on the philosophy that drug abuse is a disorder of the whole person and that drug treatment should therefore focus on building an offender's self-esteem and changing his values and attitudes. Inside the prison-based drug treatment programs offenders with drug disorders may encounter a number of drug treatment options while incarcerated, including didactic drug education classes and self-help programs.
An overwhelming proportion of deliquents in all prisons lead lives associated with substance abuse prior to their incarceration. Many of these offenders were arrested for committing violent crimes and have extensive criminal records. Although an alarming proportion of them have problems of drug abuse, few receive treatment while incarcerated. Because of the fact there are higher crime rates among drug-dependent offenders than nonusers, a large proportion of offenders having used drugs to some degree, the prison-based drug treatment is an effective approach in reducing recidivism.
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