There is a positive relationship between drug use and crime. Some of the offenders in correctional facilities continue abusing drugs. Although there are several treatment programs available in different correctional facilities, many offenders with a history of drug use opt not to seek treatment. Officials working in prisons recognized the importance of having correctional programs in the institutions, as they noticed that drug addictions often led to crimes. Authorities also noticed the importance of correctional facilities, and this led to the establishment of the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act in 1966. Under this act, offenders who had violated the federal laws were to receive in-prison and aftercare treatment. This took a lot of time to be implemented as some researchers reported that rehabilitation programs do not work. However, further research conducted in the 1980s disputed some of these claims by showing that some types of drug intervention programs were successful. The successful programs made it mandatory for offenders to participate in the program (Aaron & Schultze, 1992).
The establishment of the first drug treatment court in 1989 in Miami gave offenders a chance to seek treatment. Through this court, drug offenders were tested and treated. Success of the drug court led to its expansion in different areas. In 1994, the courts began receiving federal funding (Taxman et al., 2007b). Further research done in 1990 revealed that voluntary participants were less likely to complete the program. Programs, which included strict supervision and relevant aftercare, were highly likely to be successful. By 1992, the federal prison system had established four programs, which included conducting drug education sessions and drug abuse counseling such as group therapy, as well as residential drug treatment and transition services (Aaron & Schultze, 1992). Boot camps were popular in early 1990s. Boot camps used different treatment methods such as drug education, self help groups, milieu therapy, stress management, group counseling using the 12-step models, and stress management.
Research into drug problems and criminology is the main factor behind the evolution of drug treatment in correctional facilities. Researchers have studied the effect that drugs have on crime, and have shown a positive relationship between the two (Taxman et al., 2007b). Studies show that most of the offenders who go through treatment programs while in different correctional facilities do not re-offend. In addition, researchers have examined the effectiveness of different treatment programs used over the years.
There has been a greater understanding concerning the importance of treatment programs, and this has led to the development of new methods. Furthermore, research has shown the importance of using different treatment methods, as the substances abused are different. New scientific methods used in research, together with advancement in medicine have led to the development of medication that counter the effects of the illicit drugs used. No specific method is recommended, and many physicians handling cases of drug treatment in correctional facilities find it highly effective to use a combination of different methods. Further research has enhanced the importance of aftercare programs to ensure that the offenders do not relapse. Research has also established the importance of having a long term treatment program.
Counselors involved in treatment and rehabilitation programs, in correctional facilities, have used risk screening tools as a way of improving the intended outcome and gain consistency in results. These tools have advanced over the years. The first risk tools used concentrated on the clinical judgment and nature of the offender’s charges. Subsequent tools identified static risk factors such as age of first substance use, and combined them with clinical judgment. Further research conducted on criminal behavior concerned criminal recidivism, and advanced the risk screening tools used. The tools no longer concentrated on clinical judgment, but were concerned with the needs of the offenders such as the need for housing and stable employment. The correction programs used are aligned with the level of risk and the type of need. Current assessment tools recognize problem areas such as psychopathy and antisocial personalities (Taxman et al., 2007a).
Counselors use different treatment methods. Some use therapeutic communities, especially when handling cases involving hardcore drug users. This method is intensive and highly structured. It is residential and long term in nature. Another method is pharmacological maintenance, which involves the use of medication such as methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine, to counter the actions of the illicit drugs or to replace its actions. Other methods include counseling services, which may include peer group support, cognitive therapy, family or individual counseling, or vocational therapy. Multimodality programs combine different treatment approaches such as drug education and counseling (Walters, 2001). Most correctional facilities offer substance abuse training and awareness or group counseling sessions. The use of evidence based practice when offering treatment is beneficial since it involves the use of provable methods in treatment, thereby reducing the chances for error. In drug treatment, implementing evidence based practice improves the chances of success.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons offers different drug treatment services and programs. All institutions hold classes on drug abuse education. This includes providing information concerning substance abuse and the effects of using different substances. The drug abuse education classes enable the authorities responsible to identify people who might need treatment, and recommends different treatments to individuals. It offers non-residential treatment programs for offenders who have a low level drug problem and those waiting to enter a Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP). Offenders who do not have the time to complete the RDAP program can also choose to have the non-residential treatment program.
Inmates learn different skills, and acquire knowledge on diverse issues such as rational thinking and techniques for community adjustments. All inmates who have completed the RDAP program benefit from the institution transition aftercare program. Offenders who have completed the RDAP program and those preparing for their release from custody, can get the community transitional drug abuse treatment. The bureau makes use of research and practices based on evidence efficiency to both reduce the use of substance abuse among inmates and the rates of recidivism. The bureau concentrates on cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of drug abuse, and this enables them to deal with the underlying behavioral and psychological problems that the offenders might have (Federal Bureau of Prisons, n. d).
Although offenders are in prison, this does not mean they should be deprived of their basic human rights. Confidentiality is crucial in all medical cases, and the physician can only reveal the patients’ medical information, including drug use and dependency, to the relevant authorities, only with the consent of the patient. Counselors should not discuss any patients’ details with other people. In addition, offenders should give their consent before beginning a treatment program. Another ethical concern involves using prisoners for research. Although they are offenders, this does not make the prisoners less human. Counselors and other physicians working with prisoners should not use them to research a method of treatment. In addition, counselors should not treat offenders based on their racial background. They should not use different treatment methods for white, African American and non-white races. They should offer the offenders equal chances of treatment despite their ethnicity.
The approach of treating offenders with drug problems recognizes that drug addiction is a form of sickness and addicts should seek help. This highlights the importance of using qualified personnel to treat people with drug problems. Just as one would not use unqualified personnel to treat people suffering from chronic illnesses, one should not consider using incompetent workers to treat offenders with drug problems. It is also crucial to provide the necessary resources and tools to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment. Counselors should treat the offenders as their clients, despite the fact that they are in prison. This will ensure that they give them the same treatment as other patients, which includes giving them enough time for consultation and treatment and conducting tests for other medical conditions.
Counselors are concentrating on evidence based practice, as they have noticed its effectiveness. This requires the counselor to identify a positive effect of treatment before using it. Other counselors should have used the treatment previously before the counselor decides to use it to treat the offenders. Another current treatment method used in correctional facilities is a modified version of therapeutic communities, which aims to change the offender’s lifestyle. This method includes the practice of abstaining from drugs and developing a pro-social attitude. It incorporates the use of role models for the offender. In addition, it comprises different incentives, which include the use of rewards for the success realized. Offenders have a better chance to improve their lives, as they have different people to look up to in their encounter groups. They learn how to deal with peer pressure, which is a major drawback for people trying to stop using drugs. This treatment mode considers life’s reality and has identified different ways of dealing with dissimilar situations.
The institutional environment, which includes staff training and availability of funds, determines the success of this program. Qualified and motivated staff members offer better services, which are a prerequisite for a successful program. The staff members dealing with the participants in the treatment program encourage and push the participants to continue with the program and ensure that they complete it. In addition, they are able to monitor the participants without them feeling that they are under constant surveillance. Such staff members show a genuine interest in the rehabilitation of the drug offenders. Despite the effectiveness of the programs used, many offenders do not go through the treatment programs. This is mainly because the system lacks the necessary resources to rehabilitate the offenders. Many facilities have budgetary constraints, thus preventing them from acquiring the resources required for drug treatment programs. They are not able to offer quality treatment because they cannot afford highly qualified counselors and training their staff.
The type of treatment offered can determine the success or failure of the treatment program. Correctional facilities opt to use substance abuse awareness and training program, with 71% of prisons, 61% of jails, and 53% of community agencies offering these services. The other popular method used in correctional facilities is group counseling, where people are counseled for less than four hours per week. The use of these methods reduces the chance of success of the treatment programs. Correctional facilities opt to use these modalities, because of resource limitations (Taxman et al., 2007b). In addition, some offenders continue finding ways of using and abusing substances while still in prison. They find different ways of getting the drugs to the prison. Those who come to visit them find ways of supplying them with drugs, despite enhanced security in many correctional facilities.
Aaron, J. H., & Schultze, L. C. (1992). Setting domestic priorities: What can government do? Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press
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Federal Bureau of Prisons (n. d.). Substance abuse treatment. Retrieved from http://www.bop.gov/inmate_programs/substance.jsp
Taxman, S. F., Cropsey, L. K., Young, W. D., & Wexler, H. (2007a). Screening, assessment, and referral practices in adult correctional settings: A national perspective. Criminal Justice Behavior, 34 (9), 1216-1234
Taxman, S. F., Perdoni, L. M., & Harrison, D. L. (2007). Drug treatment services for adult offenders: The state of the state. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 32, 239-254
Walters, P. J. (2001). Drug treatment in the criminal justice system. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/pdf/94406.pdf