The vast majority of drug offenders incarcerated…and there are millions, receive either no drug therapy, or minimal prison based treatment, and these two approaches have not historically shown much effectiveness in reducing recidivism either to drug abuse or to re-offending.
A NIDA funded program in Delaware prisons looked to explore a different matrix of treatment, using a three stage approach to therapy prior to complete release. Inmates begin in the general prison population, proceed then to a structured prison based drug treatment program, and finished their sentence in a community based drug treatment facility.
The results demonstrate quite clearly that a progressive and lengthy model of correctional treatment shows far greater efficacy, and ultimately saves a great deal of money. Of prisoners who proceeded through the three stage program, 77% had not re-offended after 18 months, compared to only 43% of prisoners having participated in prison only drug and alcohol treatment programs. Demonstrating yet again that incarceration alone for drug offenses does not solve the problem, and that every dollar spent on treatment as versus incarceration yields an incredible societal dividend.
Let’s follow the lead of Delaware, and give sick people treatment, instead of just locking them away.