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Collaborative Evaluation of Pennsylvania's Program for Drug-Involved Parole Violators

NCJ Number
Date Published
69 pages
In 1998, Pennsylvania established two 60-bed drug treatment programs in State prisons under the Federal Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) initiative that target technical parole violators (TPV's).
Mirroring a national pattern, TPV's account for a growing proportion of prison admissions in Pennsylvania, contributing to a State prison population that remains above capacity. Pennsylvania's RSAT programs are unique in their focus on TPV's and cost savings. Instead of a prison recommitment of 12 to 36 months that typically results from a parole revocation, RSAT participants are committed to 12 months of treatment, half of which are spent in relatively low-cost residential halfway houses. The RSAT programs are maintained through the joint management of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Board of Probation and Parole, and Commission on Crime and Delinquency and two private service providers. An evaluation of the RSAT programs showed they filled to capacity within the first months of opening in February 1998. Through December 31, 1998, 237 TPV's had entered the programs. RSAT participants had high levels of self-reported drug use and need for treatment. Substantial minorities (25 to 30 percent) also had medical and psychological problems and most had poor vocational and educational histories. RSAT participants judged the programs as helpful in addressing substance abuse problems, as well as vocational and educational areas. There was very little dropout from the programs during the first 6-month phase of prison treatment, as less than 10 percent of those in the programs failed during this period. By the end of 1998, 38 percent in one program failed and 22 percent in the other program failed. Both programs implemented highly-structured curriculums during the prison phase, and much of the programming focused on changing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors associated with drug use and criminal acts. The program evaluation also showed treatment was more effective when it is tailored to individual needs, issues surrounding the conflicting priorities of treatment and correctional security surfaced, and transition to the community was a vulnerable period for inmates. Finally, the program evaluation showed States should establish an interagency monitoring and response system that identifies and resolves RSAT implementation issues. The two RSAT programs are compared in terms of program content and phase level in an appendix. 7 references, 11 tables, and 1 figure

Date Published: January 1, 1999