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Multiple Measures of Outcome in Assessing a Prison-Based Drug Treatment Program

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 37 Issue: 3/4 Dated: 2003 Pages: 65-94
Michael L. Prendergast; Elizabeth A. Hall; Harry K. Wexler
Date Published
30 pages
This study used multiple measures of outcomes related to crime and drug use in examining the impact of a prison drug treatment program at 12 months following release to parole.
The study involved an evaluation of the Amity prison drug treatment program, a demonstration project at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison near San Diego, CA. Amity uses a three-phase treatment model that involves clinical observation and assessment of resident needs and problem areas, as well as assimilation into the treatment community (TC) culture (2-3 months); the earning of increased responsibility through program involvement and difficult emotional work through encounter groups and counseling sessions that focus on self-discipline, self-worth, self-awareness, respect for authority, and acceptance of guidance for problem areas (5-6 months); and preparation for community re-entry through the strengthening of skills in planning and decisionmaking culminating in the design of postdischarge plans. The evaluation focused on 425 subjects in the treatment group and 290 in the no-treatment group. The postrelease evaluation measurements and data encompassed self-reports on the time to first illegal activity, arrest type, and number of months incarcerated. Days to first reincarceration and type of reincarceration were based on official records. Drug-use variables included self-report data on the time to first drug use and drug-testing results. The study found that inmates randomly assigned to the demonstration treatment program performed significantly better than controls on days to first illegal activity, days to first incarceration, days to first drug use, type of reincarceration, and mean number of months incarcerated. No differences were found in type of first arrest or in drug-test results. Individuals who completed both prison-based and community-based treatment after release performed significantly better than subjects who received lesser amounts of treatment on every measure. The survival analysis found that participants were most vulnerable to recidivism in the first 60 days after release. The results of this study argue for including more outcome variables in assessing the impact of prison-based substance abuse treatment. 7 tables, 7 figures, and 71 references