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Drug Treatment in Prison

Drug use among prison inmates is an epidemic affecting between 60% and 80% of offenders under federal supervision. By requiring drug screenings at the State and Federal levels, providing successful drug treatment models, providing financial support for research and prevention, and projecting for future long-term commitment, the Federal Government provides effective treatment programs in order to rehabilitate offenders to become productive members of society.According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA’s) Uniform Facility Data Set (UFDS) 197 Survey of Correctional Facilities, drug and alcohol counseling was available in about 40% of Federal, State, and local adult and juvenile correctional facilities. About 173,000 adults and juveniles were in those substance abuse treatment programs.

Drug Treatment in Jails and Prisons

Drug Treatment Programs in Prison

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) offers drug treatment plans to all inmates who qualify, prior to their release from custody, in compliance with the requirements of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. BOP operates several types of drug abuse programs, including residential programs, transitional programs, nonresidential programs, and drug education programs. Residential drug rehabilitation treatment is usually provided in specific units which are separate from general population units for drug detoxification participants. Transitional services programs provide continued care and support to inmates living in halfway houses who are making the transition from custody to society. Nonresidential treatment programs are nonunit based, as is drug education. In the fiscal year of 1997, the number of BOP institutions that offered residential treatment increased from 32 to 42. In the fiscal year of 1998, nearly 34,000 inmates participated in BOP treatment programs.

State jails and corrections officials approximate between 70% and 85% of inmates need a degree of substance abuse treatment. In roughly 7,600 correctional facilities surveyed, 172,851 inmates participated in drug treatment programs in 1997, less than 11% of the incarcerated population. More than 13% of inmates who were undergoing treatment were under 18 years old. About 70% of prison inmates receiving drug rehabilitation treatment were treated in the general inmate population. The rest received drug treatment in specific units (28.1%) or in hospital inpatient treatment (2%).

Approximately 73% of local jails provide drug treatment or programs, with 32.1% providing detox care, 29.6% providing drug education courses, and 63.7% providing self-help and support programs. About 61% of convicted jail inmates who committed their offenses while under the influence of alcohol or drugs had received treatment in the past.

Prisons and jails also provide pharmacological maintenance programs, which include the long-term administration of a medication that either replaces the illicit drug or blocks its actions. These pharmacological applications include methadone maintenance, naltrexone treatment, buprenorphine administration, and other long-acting opioid maintenance compounds.

Many prison and jail inmates enroll in outpatient drug rehab treatment programs, which include a range of services, from professional psychotherapies to peer discussions. Counseling services include individual, group, or family counseling; peer group support, vocational therapy, and cognitive therapy. Aftercare support, crucial to relapse prevention, typically consists of 12-step meetings, occasional group or individual counseling, self-help and relapse-prevention strategies, and/or vocational counseling.