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Importance of Systems in Improving Offender Outcomes: New Frontiers in Treatment Integrity

NCJ Number
Justice Research and Policy Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: Fall 2000 Pages: 37-58
Date Published
22 pages

This paper uses a recent process evaluation of Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) block grant programs to illustrate the rationale for a systems approach to corrections-based treatment.


The process evaluation conducted in six jails that provided residential therapeutic community drug treatment services in a mid-Atlantic State sought to determine how jails implemented the RSAT model. The jurisdiction expanded or established a therapeutic community in the jail or regional correctional facility at each site to increase drug treatment services to offenders. The process evaluation took place during the first 14 months of the program implementation and tracked offenders through both the treatment and criminal justice system. The evaluation focused on the fidelity of program implementation and the participants’ access to treatment services, program retention, and program completion, as well as their continuation of treatment in the community. The analysis focused in particular on organizational and structural impediments to the initial implementation of these programs in the jail setting. Results revealed that a lack of system integration contributed to shorter lengths of stay in treatment in jail, infrequent continuation of care into community treatment, and inadequate supervision of offenders. Findings indicated that developing systems required movement away from organizational barriers and an opening of the decision points to joint consideration. Findings also indicated the need to develop integrated services if treatment is to become an effective means of crime prevention. Table and 28 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2000