Public and Employee Communications



For Immediate Release
Contact: Gordon Hinkle / Peggy Bengs
(916) 445-4950

October 7, 2009

Substance Abuse Programs Reduce Recidivism - New Report Finds

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click to download reportA newly released report from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) shows a substantial reduction in recidivism for offenders completing in-prison substance abuse programs followed by community-based substance abuse treatment.

Strong gains for offenders completing both in-prison and community treatment programs  

SACRAMENTO - A newly released report from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) shows a substantial reduction in recidivism for offenders completing in-prison substance abuse programs followed by community-based substance abuse treatment.

“Effective treatment for alcohol and drug addiction is crucial for successful reintegration into the community when inmates are released,” said Matthew Cate, CDCR Secretary.  “Our emphasis on encouraging inmates who complete substance abuse programs in prison to continue in community aftercare treatment has proven to be successful,” he said.

“During this time of fiscal crisis and significant budget reductions, our department remains focused on core substance abuse programs that reduce recidivism,” said Elizabeth Siggins, Acting Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Programs.

The 2009 Annual Report of the Office of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (OSATS), formerly the Division of Addiction and Recovery Services, includes return-to-custody data on offenders who paroled in Fiscal Year 2005-06 for a one-year and a two-year period.  The return to custody rate after one year for offenders completing both in-prison and community-based treatment in FY 2005-06 was 21.9 percent compared to 39.9 percent for all offenders. The return to custody rate after two years for offenders completing both in-prison and community-based treatment in FY 2005-06 was 35.3 percent compared to 54.2 percent for all offenders.

For male offenders, the return-to-custody rate after one year for those who completed both in-prison and community-based substance abuse treatment in FY 2005-06 was 25.4 percent compared to 41.2 percent of all male offenders.  The return-to-prison rate after two years for male offenders who completed both in-prison and community-based substance abuse treatment in FY 2005-06 was 40.4 percent compared to 55.6 percent of all male offenders.

Female offenders were especially responsive to substance abuse treatment.  After one year, only 8.8 percent of female offenders who completed both in-prison and community-based substance abuse treatment in FY 2005-06 were returned to custody compared to 30.1 percent of all female offenders.  The return-to-prison rate after two years for female offenders who completed both in-prison and community-based substance abuse treatment in FY 2005-06 was 16.5 percent compared to 43.7 percent of all female offenders.

Because of the importance of combining in-prison programs with community substance abuse treatment in reducing recidivism, OSATS has worked to encourage offenders who complete in-prison substance abuse programs to continue in community aftercare treatment.  As of June 2008, more than half (54.6 percent) of offenders who completed in-prison programs continued on to aftercare.  The average daily population of parolees receiving community treatment has more than doubled – from more than 2,600 at the end of June 2007 to over 5,800 in July 2009.

In 2008, 28.4 percent of CDCR commitments were for a substance abuse offense.  Substance abuse offenses include Possession, Possession for Sale, and Manufacturing of a Controlled Substance; Hashish Possession; and Possession for Sale or Sales of Marijuana, and other Marijuana Offenses.  

Despite recent budget reductions, including $250 million for adult offender rehabilitation programs, CDCR remains committed to evidence-based programs that reduce recidivism.  To meet the new State budget realities, the department is currently developing a streamlined in-prison substance abuse program that shortens the length of time an offender participates from the current 6-36 months to 3 months, with a strong emphasis on aftercare in the community.  Evidence-based practices will be used to target services to inmates who have been assessed as most likely to recidivate and most likely to need substance abuse treatment.

Note:  The above data is based on offenders who completed both in-prison and community care treatment.  CDCR recognizes that there may be some selection problems by focusing only on offenders that completed the program.  Future analyses will attempt to assess all offenders assigned to a substance abuse treatment program, including those who do not complete the program.

The report is available at CDCR’s web site at www.cdcr.ca.gov/DARS

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