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CDCR Launches First-of-its-Kind Substance Abuse Treatment Program for Female Offenders

The new Trauma Informed Substance Abuse Treatment Program addresses women’s root causes of substance abuse and helps meet the goals of prison reform legislation.

LIVE OAK –Today, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) Secretary Matthew Cate joined staff, participants, and substance abuse treatment professionals at the opening ceremony for the new Trauma Informed Substance Abuse Treatment Program for women offenders at the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility in Live Oak. The program is one of the components of the Public Safety and Offender Services Act of 2007, also known as AB 900, landmark prison reform legislation signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in May 2007.

“This innovative program is a down payment on CDCR’s commitment to provide more rehabilitation programs to offenders and showcases the Department’s shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach to female incarceration,” said Secretary Cate. “Substance abuse has a negative effect on families and drives incarceration; however, research has shown that investing in substance abuse treatment has a real cost benefit to the public.”

The Trauma Informed Substance Abuse Treatment Program, or TI-SAT, is unique for CDCR in that it takes a multi-dimensional approach that acknowledges women’s pathways into the criminal justice system and targets the causes of substance abuse. The program, provided by Walden House, is geared for 200 inmates at the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility. Clinicians and counselors provide the 150 women currently in the program treatment in a safe environment. The program targets social and cultural factors including abuse, violence, family relationships and co-occurring disorders, and treats the trauma that may have lead the women to abuse drugs and alcohol.

“This program provides female offenders with gender-responsive treatment and services to help them successfully reintegrate in their communities,” said Thomas Powers, Director of CDCR’s Division of Addiction and Recovery Services. “Improving outcomes for these women will also translate into improved outcomes for their children and assist with CDCR’s important efforts to break the intergenerational cycle of incarceration.”

Powers said that gender-responsive means the housing, supervision, treatment programs, services, the staff who develop and deliver the programs, and every aspect related to the incarceration of women reflects an understanding of the realities and issues of women’s lives.

“For several years, CDCR has tackled the issue of female incarceration and developed policies and strategies to address that issue,” Powers said. “Research shows that more than 57 percent of incarcerated women have been physically or sexually abused at some time in their lives compared with 16 percent of male inmates. This program is specifically geared to help the women deal with the trauma that may have led to their addiction and subsequent imprisonment.”

AB 900 directed the CDCR to expand in-custody substance abuse treatment services as well as follow up treatment for offenders on parole. The TI-SAT program represents the first milestone in the goal to add 2,000 substance abuse treatment slots statewide by December 30, 2008.

It is also part of CDCR’s long-term strategic plan for female offenders which began in January 2005 when CDCR established the Gender-Responsive Strategies Commission to develop overall plans, policies, procedures and programs for improving outcomes for juvenile and adult females in prison or on parole.
During the first two weeks of the TI-SAT program, inmates go through an orientation and then progress to the main treatment phase where they are placed in classes and groups geared to address their needs identified in their assessments and interventions.

The Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility in Live Oak opened in April 1989 and is operated by Cornell Companies, Inc. under contract with CDCR. Located 60 miles north of Sacramento, the facility houses up to 305 minimum-security female offenders. In addition to the TI-SAT program, the facility also offers academic educational programs, substance abuse and addiction support groups, a pre-release program, vocational training and other programs.

Click here to view AB 900 Benchmark Documents

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