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Dynamics of a Prison-Based Therapeutic Community for Women Offenders: Retention, Completion, and Outcomes

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 86 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2006 Pages: 6-31
Date Published
March 2006
26 pages

This article presents the methodology and findings of an evaluation of Washington State's New Horizons program, which is a holistic residential therapeutic community (TC) for drug-addicted female offenders.


The findings show that just over 44 percent of the TC residents completed all phases of the program. Younger, non-White women and those convicted of violent offenses were less likely to complete the program. Using postrelease convictions as an indicator of recidivism, the evaluation found that only 13 percent of the women who completed the program reoffended; and just over 22 percent of women who spent at least some time in the program reoffended. Reoffending increased with the passage of time after release, indicating the importance of having effective long-term aftercare components for drug treatment programs. The program's primary objective is to restructure or develop prosocial cognitive, behavioral, and emotional patterns of drug-addicted women offenders. The TC uses peer encounter groups and behavioral modification; social and problem solving skills training; rational emotive, cognitive, and assertiveness training; anger and aggression management; and educational training. The evaluation collected qualitative data on the program from the fall of 1997 to the spring of 2001. The data consisted of onsite personal interviews and telephone and e-mail exchanges with the treatment supervisor, facility superintendents, and treatment and correctional staff; onsite semistructured interviews and meetings with program participants; and onsite observations of community meetings and individual program components. Quantitative data were provided by the State Department of Corrections. Data on program outcomes consisted of completion and noncompletion factors for 322 program participants, 43 of whom were still enrolled in the program as of July 2001. A control group of women offenders with substance abuse problems was matched with program women. 11 tables and 52 references

Date Published: March 1, 2006