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Getting Ready: How Arizona Has Created a 'Parallel Universe' for Inmates

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 263 Dated: June 2009 Pages: 2-9
Date Published
June 2009
8 pages
This article reports on the features and effectiveness of Arizona's "Getting Ready" in-prison program, which aims to provide inmates a "parallel universe" that mirrors the responsibilities and challenges they will face in the community after release in pursuing responsible, law-abiding lives.
The first phase of the program occurs during intake and classification. The staff conducts an assessment of inmate needs and risks. The assessment guides staff in decisions on housing, work, supervision, and program assignments. Assessments and a re-evaluation of risk are updated at least annually throughout an inmate's incarceration. While imprisoned, Arizona inmates apply themselves to constructive tasks 7 days a week, focusing on becoming literate, employable, and sober; and during leisure time, focusing on their families, community roles, and improving their lives. "Getting Ready" uses a three-tiered earned incentive that changes the traditional paradigm for prison life. This system recognizes good behavior (greater acceptance of responsibility and better decisionmaking), with rewards or incentives that can be earned over time, are appropriate to each custody level, and are valued by the inmates. The program has a two-part component for free time. One component focuses on self-improvement. Classes include topics on conflict resolution, cultural diversity, spiritual pursuits, arts and recreation, and relapse prevention. The second leisure-time component addresses improved roles in the community and family reunification. "Getting Ready" also involves the participation of crime victim organizations. This enables inmates to have a greater appreciation of how their behavior harmfully impacts the lives of others. Since implementing "Getting Ready" in 2004, independent evaluations have shown a 46-percent decrease in inmate-on-inmate assaults, a 33-percent decrease in inmate-on-staff assaults, a 67-percent decline in suicides, and a 61-percent decline in sexual assaults. For 1,500 inmates who completed Getting Ready in its entirety, recidivism after 1 year declined significantly. 1 note and appended evaluation report

Date Published: June 1, 2009