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Alternative-to-Incarceration Programs for Felony Offenders: Progress Report and Preliminary Findings From a Recidivism Analysis

NCJ Number
Rachel Kramer; Rachel Porter
Date Published
June 2000
51 pages
This document reports on New York City's alternative-to-incarceration (ATI) programs.
A network of programs has been established in New York City to serve as alternatives to jail and prison. ATI programs emphasize rehabilitation rather than punishment and provide a broad set of services to their clients. Findings from a previous report of the ATI programs serving felony offenders are presented based on a larger sample of newly admitted ATI participants. These findings, from interviews with the participants, reveal that the ATI's serve a varied and consistently disadvantaged population. Substance abusers and women face greater challenges than participants in other groups do. They have abused drugs more extensively and report more medical and mental health problems. The general population and youth groups consist mostly of young men with relatively stable economic, substance abuse, and health characteristics. All participants lack strong educational and employment histories. The only change since the last report is a slight increase in prior criminal history of substance abusers and women. Programs appear to provide services appropriately matched to the needs of participants. Substance abusers and women received the most services, especially those related to drug treatment and mental health problems. Participants receive a wide range of services and report high levels of satisfaction with programming. Program completion and retention varied by the population served. Successful completion rates ranged from a low of 39 percent for substance abusers to a high of 75 percent for the general population. The completion of substance abusers declined compared to the last report. This may be related to the fact that the substance abuse programs have been admitting clients with more serious drug use and criminal histories. The differences in rates of completion and retention suggest that standards for outcome and completion in the programs may need to be adjusted so that they are specific to the unique characteristics of the individual groups. Data suggest that ATI participants are comparable to a matched sample of offenders that did not attend an ATI program in terms of re-arrest rate and the severity of both arrest and disposition charges. 21 tables, 21 footnotes, 2 appendixes