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Assessing the Therapeutic Environment in Hybrid Models of Treatment: Prisoner Perceptions of Staff

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 48 Issue: 2 Dated: February-March 2009 Pages: 85-100
Date Published
February 2009
16 pages

This study examined the perceptions of male and female inmates in three prisons, comparing those in therapeutic “hybrid” units with those in nontherapeutic units.


The combination of two systems, criminal justice and substance abuse treatment, to form a third system known as Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) programs has been referred to as a “hybrid model.” Hybrids, originally coined to describe the integration of mental health and substance abuse service systems, include personnel who possess differing beliefs and practices but have a shared mission and goals regarding rehabilitation. Simply enjoining two systems, however, does not necessarily create a hybrid model or therapeutic environment. The hybrid offered an interesting test of whether treatment professionals could successfully work in union with correctional staff to create therapeutic environments in correctional settings. Results revealed that prisoners perceived the treatment units, as well as corrections staff, significantly different than the non-treatment units across all three facilities. More importantly for treatment professionals, prisoners perceived the treatment staff as significantly different from corrections staff on the treatment units, thereby differentiating staff roles while retaining a positive perception of the treatment environment. However there were specific characteristics of each staff group that were more predictive of these positive feelings about the treatment unit. Data were collected from 1,030 prisoners from 2 male prisons and 1 female prison. Tables and references

Date Published: February 1, 2009