Prison-Based Treatment Assessment and Outcome Evaluation

TEXT Box--PTA Proj Info

The relationship between substance abuse and crime and its impact on society is well documented. As levels of illicit drug use have increased, so have numbers of drug distribution offenses as well as other serious crimes. Not surprisingly, the majority of the offenders committing crimes such as assault and robbery have a history of substance abuse. Until recently, most of these offenders in Texas were left untreated and often returned to substance abuse and crime after incarceration. For example, during the first part of this decade, Texas witnessed the rearrest of 60% of its parolees and probationers and the return of 85% to drug use within 3 years after being released.

Treatment of substance abusers in prison settings, however, has been gaining interest throughout the United States, and the Texas Criminal Justice System has been a leader in this area by its progress toward establishing thousands of treatment beds in state correctional facilities. As part of the landmark legislation signed into law in 1991, the “Texas Criminal Justice Treatment Initiatives” have established 800 In-Prison Therapeutic Community (ITC) treatment beds and another 5,000 beds for probationers with substance abuse problems. Each provides 9 months of primary treatment, followed by mandatory participation in community-based Transitional Treatment Centers (TTCs). These Centers require up to 3 months of residential treatment followed by 12 months of nonresidential treatment after release from prison. The Texas Initiatives created one of the largest treatment systems in the nation and has been viewed as a farsighted and progressive attempt to break the crime and drug connection.

Because scientific assessment and evaluation of the ITC is vital, the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA) contracted with TCU to carry out the first phase of the Prison-Based Treatment Assessment (PTA) Project. It was completed during 1995 and included the collection of baseline data on 293 ITC clients during the weeks immediately prior to their release from the Kyle New Vision Chemical Dependency Treatment Facility (south of Austin). Data related to treatment process issues (such as program structure and counseling activities) and psychosocial functioning also were collected. The Kyle ITC had an 80% graduation rate and the treatment sample included prison inmates who were appropriately selected for drug abuse treatment. Six and 12-month face-to-face follow-up interviews were collected with Kyle ITC graduates as well as with approximately 100 other Texas prison parolees identified as having a substance abuse problem who did not participate in the Kyle ITC program. Hair samples were obtained in conjunction with face-to-face interviews to determine whether drugs were used in the previous 90 days. The second phase of the evaluation was funded in June 1996 by the National Institute of Justice for conducting further analyses of the prison-based treatment process and 12-month follow-up data. Follow-up interview data indicate that the Kyle ITC graduates, particularly those who completed the aftercare program, had lower relapse and recidivism rates than did the comparison sample.

Selected Publications

Griffith J. D., Hiller, M. L., Knight, K., & Simpson, D. D. (1999). A cost-effectiveness analysis of in-prison therapeutic community treatment and risk classification. The Prison Journal, 79(3), 352-368.  [Abstract]

Hiller, M. L., Knight, K., & Simpson, D. D. (1999). Prison-based substance abuse treatment, residential aftercare and recidivism.  Addiction, 94(6), 833-842.  [Abstract]

Knight, K., Hiller, M. L., & Simpson, D. D. (1999). Evaluating corrections-based treatment for the drug-abusing criminal offender. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 31(3), 299-304.  [Abstract]

Knight, K., Simpson, D. D., & Hiller, M. L. (1999). Three-year reincarceration outcomes for in-prison therapeutic community treatment in Texas. The Prison Journal, 79(3), 337-351.  [Abstract]

Knight, K., Simpson, D. D., Chatham, L. R., Camacho, L. M. (1997). An assessment of prison-based drug treatment: Texas’ in-prison therapeutic community program. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 24(3/4), 75-100.  [Abstract]