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Multisite Evaluation of Prison-Based Therapeutic Community Drug Treatment

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior: An International Journal Volume: 34 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 1481-1498
Date Published
November 2007
18 pages

A quasi-experimental study examined multiple postrelease outcomes up to 2 years for inmates who participated in therapeutic community (TC) drug treatment programs or comparison groups at five State prisons.


Results support previous findings regarding significant reductions in recidivism because of participation in prison therapeutic community (TC) drug treatment. However, in contrast to previous studies, prison TC exerted strong, significant treatment effects independently of community aftercare. The effects of prison TC drug treatment were not unqualified. TC significantly lowered the likelihood of re-incarceration and rearrest but not drug relapse. Postrelease employment emerged as the strongest predictor of reincarceration and rearrest, whereas rearrest was reduced only for older offenders who were employed fulltime or unemployed but able to work. Future research should explore how both individual and programmatic variations influence treatment outcomes and explore why prison-based drug treatment seems to have stronger effects on criminal behavior than drug-using behavior. It has been argued that prison TC does not produce significant treatment effects unless the continuum of care is completed by community aftercare treatment. One objective of this study was to examine the effects of prison TC drug treatment in a sample that did not receive mandatory community aftercare. A second objective was to examine to what degree outcomes varied across different measures and sites. It was predicted that the level of outcomes would be better for the treatment group than the comparison group and that treatment effects would be consistent across different prisons in the same State using the same TC framework and philosophy. Tables, figure, notes, and references

Date Published: November 1, 2007