Drugs And CrimeUse federal tax dollars to fund these therapeutic communities in prisons. I feelthat if we teach these prisoners some self-control and alternative lifestylesthat we can keep them from reentering the prisons once they get out. I am alsogoing to describe some of today’s programs that have proven to be veryeffective.
Gottfredson and Hirschi developed the general theory of crime. ItAccording to their theory, the criminal act and the criminal offender areseparate concepts. The criminal act is perceived as opportunity; illegalactivities that people engage in when they perceive them to be advantageous. Crimes are committed when they promise rewards with minimum threat of pain orpunishment.
Crimes that provide easy, short-term gratification are oftencommitted. The number of offenders may remain the same, while crime ratesfluctuate due to the amount of opportunity (Siegel 1998). Criminal offenders arepeople that are predisposed to committing crimes. This does not mean that theyhave no choice in the matter, it only means that their self-control level islower than average. When a person has limited self-control, they tend to be moreimpulsive and shortsighted. This ties back in with crimes that are committedthat provide easy, short-term gratification.Order now
These people do not necessarilyhave a tendency to commit crimes, they just do not look at long-termconsequences and they tend to be reckless and self-centered (Longshore 1998,pp. 102-113). These people with lower levels of self-control also engage innon-criminal acts as well. These acts include drinking, gambling, smoking, andillicit sexual activity (Siegel 1998).
Also, drug use is a common act that isperformed by these people. They do not look at the consequences of the drugs,while they get the short-term gratification. Sometimes this drug abuse becomesan addiction and then the person will commit other small crimes to get the drugsor them money to get the drugs. In a mid-western study done by Evans et al.
(1997, pp. 475-504), there was a significant relationship between self-controland use of illegal drugs. The problem is once these people get into the criminaljustice system, it is hard to get them out. After they do their time and arereleased, it is much easier to be sent back to prison. Once they are out, theyrevert back to their impulsive selves and continue with the only type of lifethey know.
They know short-term gratification, the “quick fix” if youwill. Being locked up with thousands of other people in the same situation asthem is not going to change them at all. They break parole and are sent back toprison. Since the second half of the 1980’s, there has been a large growth inprison and jail populations, continuing a trend that started in the 1970’s.
The proportion of drug users in the incarcerated population also grew at thesame time. By the end of the 1980’s, about one-third of those sent to stateprisons had been convicted of a drug offense; the highest in the country’shistory (Reuter 1992, pp. 323-395). With the arrival of crack use in the1980’s, the strong relationship between drugs and crime got stronger. The useof cocaine and heroin became very prevalent. Violence on the streets that iscaused by drugs got the public’s attention and that put pressure on the policeand courts.
Consequently, more arrests were made. While it may seem good atfirst that these people are locked up, with a second look, things are not thatgood. The cost to John Q. Taxpayer for a prisoner in Ohio for a year is around$30,000 (Phipps 1998). That gets pretty expensive when you consider that thereare more than 1,100,000 people in United States prisons today (Siegel 1998). Many prisoners are being held in local jails because of overcrowding.
This risein population is largely due to the number of inmates serving time for drugoffenses (Siegel 1998). This is where therapeutic communities come into play. The term “therapeutic community” has been used in many different forms oftreatment, including residential group homes and special schools, and differentconditions, like mental illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse (Lipton 1998,pp. 106-109).
In the United States, therapeutic communities are used in therehabilitation of drug addicts in and out of prison. These communities involve atype of group therapy that focuses more on the person a whole and not so muchthe offense they committed or their drug abuse. They use a “community ofpeers” and role models rather than professional clinicians. They focus onlifestyle changes and tend to be more holistic (Lipton 1998, pp. 106-109). Bygetting inmates to participate in these programs, the prisoners can break theiraddiction to drugs.
By freeing themselves from this addiction they can changetheir lives. These therapeutic communities can teach them some self-control andways that they can direct their energies into more productive things, such assports, religion, or work. Seven out of every ten men and eight out of every tenwomen in the criminal justice system used drugs with some regularity prior toentering the criminal justice system (Lipton 1998, pp. 106-109). With that manypeople in prisons that are using drugs and the connection between drug use andcrime, then if there was any success at all it seems like it would be a step inthe right direction.
Many of these offenders will not seek any type of reformwhen they are in the community. They feel that they do not have the time tocommit to go through a program of rehabilitation. It makes sense, then, thatthey should receive treatment while in prison because one thing they have plentyof is time. In 1979, around four percent of the prison population, or about10,000, were receiving treatment through the 160 programs that were availablethroughout the country (National Institute on Drug Abuse 1981). Forty-nine ofthese programs were based on the therapeutic community model, which servedaround 4,200 prisoners.
In 1989, the percentage of prisoners that participatedin these programs grew to about eleven percent (Chaiken 1989). Some incompletesurveys state today that over half the states provide some form of treatment totheir prisoners and about twenty percent of identified drug-using offenders areusing these programs (Frohling 1989). The public started realizing that drugabuse and crime were on the rise and that something had to be done about it. This led to more federal money being put into treatment programs in prisons(Beckett 1994, pp. 425-447).
The States were assisted through two FederalGovernment initiatives, projects REFORM and RECOVERY. REFORM began in 1987, andlaid the groundwork for the development of effective prison-based treatment forincarcerated drug abusers. Presentations were made at professional conferencesto national groups and policy makers and to local correctional officials. Atthese presentations the principles of effective correctional change and theefficacy of prison-based treatment were discussed.
New models were formed thatallowed treatment that began in prison to continue after prisoners were releasedinto the community. Many drug abuse treatment system components were establisheddue to Project REFORM that include: 39 assessment and referral programsimplemented and 33 expanded or improved; 36 drug education programs implementedand 82 expanded or improved; 44 drug resource centers established and 37expanded or improved; 20 in-prison 12-step programs implemented and 62 expandedor improved; 11 urine monitoring systems expanded; 74 prerelease counselingand/or referral programs implemented and 54 expanded or improved; 39 postrelease treatment programs with parole and 10 improved; and 77 isolated-unittreatment programs started. In 1991, the new Center for Substance AbuseTreatment established Project RECOVERY. This program provided technicalassistance and training services to start out prison drug treatment programs. Most of the states that participated in REFORM were involved with RECOVERY, aswell as a few new states. In most therapeutic communities, recovered drug usersare placed in a therapeutic environment, isolated from the general prisonpopulation.
This is due to the fact that if they live with the generalpopulation, it is much harder to break away from old habits. The primaryclinical staff is usually made up of former substance abusers that at one timewere rehabilitated in therapeutic communities. The perspective of the treatmentis that the problem is with the whole person and not the drug. The addiction isa symptom and not the core of the disorder. The primary goal is to changepatterns of behavior, thinking, and feeling that predispose drug use (Inciardiet al. 1997, pp.
261-278). This returns to the general theory of crime and theargument that it is the opportunity that creates the problem. If you take awaythe opportunity to commit crimes by changing one’s behavior and thinking thenthe opportunity will not arise for the person to commit these crimes that werereadily available in the past. The most effective form of therapeutic communityintervention involves three stages: incarceration, work release, and parole orother form of supervision (Inciardi et al. 1997, pp.
261-278). The primary stageneeds to consist of a prison-based therapeutic community. Pro-social valuesshould be taught in an environment that is separate from the normal prisonpopulation. This should be an on-going and evolving process that lasts at leasttwelve months, with the ability to stay longer if it is deemed necessary. Theprisoners need to grasp the concept of the addiction cycle and interact withother recovering addicts.
The second stage should include a transitional workrelease program. This is a form of partial incarceration in which inmates thatare approaching release dates can work for pay in the free community, but theymust spend their non-working hours in either the institution or a work releasefacility (Inciardi et al. 1997, pp. 261-278). The only problem here is thatduring their stay at this facility, they are reintroduced to groups andbehaviors that put them there in the first place. If it is possible, theserecovering addicts should stay together and live in a separate environment thanthe general population.
Once the inmate is released into the free community, heor she will remain under the supervision of a parole officer or some other typeof supervisory program. Treatment should continue through either outpatientcounseling or group therapy. In addition, they should also be encouraged toreturn to the work release therapeutic community for refresher sessions, attendweekly groups, call their counselors on a regular basis and spend one day amonth at the facility (Inciardi et al. 1997, pp.
261-278). Since the early1990’s, the Delaware correctional system has been operating this three-stagemodel. It is based around three therapeutic communities: the KEY, a prison-basedtherapeutic community for men; WCI Village, a prison-based therapeutic communityfor women; and CREST Outreach Center, a residential work release center for menand women. According to Inciardi et al. (1997, pp.
261-278), the continuing oftherapeutic community treatment and sufficient length of follow up time, aconsistent pattern of reduction of drug use and recidivism exists. Their studyshows the effectiveness of the program extending beyond the in-prison program. New York’s model for rehabilitation is called the Stay’n Out Program. Thisis a therapeutic community program that was established in 1977 by a group ofrecovered addicts (Wexler et al.
1992, pp. 156-175). The program was evaluatedin 1984 and it was reported that the program reduced recidivism for both malesand females. Also, from this study, the “time-in-program” hypothesis wasformed.
This came from the finding that successful outcomes were directlyrelated to the amount of time that was spent in treatment. Another study, byToumbourou et al. (1998, pp. 1051-1064), tested the time-in-program hypothesis. In this study, they found a linear relationship between reduced recidivism ratesand time spent in the program as well as the level of treatment attained.
Thisstudy found that it was the attainment of level progress rather than time in thetreatment that was most important. The studies done on New York’s Stay’n Outprogram and Delaware’s Key-Crest program are some of the first large-scaleevidence that prison-based therapeutic communities actually produce asignificant reduction in recidivism rates and show a consistency over time. Theprograms of the past did work, but before most of the programs were privatelyfunded, and when the funds ran out in seven or eight years, so did the programs. Now with the government backing these types of programs, they should continue toshow a decrease in recidivism. It is much more cost effective to treat theseinmates.
A program like Stay’n Out cost about $3,000 to $4,000 more than thestandard correctional costs per inmate per year (Lipton 1998, pp. 106-109). In aprogram in Texas, it was figured that with the money spent on 672 offenders thatentered the program, 74 recidivists would have to be prevented from returning tobreak even. It was estimated that 376 recidivists would be kept from returningusing the therapeutic community program (Eisenberg and Fabelo 1996, pp.
296-318). The savings produced in crime-related and drug use-associated costspay for the cost of treatment in about two to three years. The main questionthat arises when dealing with this subject is whether or not people change. According to Gottfredson and Hirschi, the person does not change, only theopportunity changes.
By separating themselves from people that commit crimes andcommonly do drugs, they are actually avoiding the opportunity to commit thesecrimes. They do not put themselves in the situation that would allow their lowself-control to take over. Starting relationships with people who exhibitself-control and ending relationships with those who do not is a major factor inthe frequency of committing crimes. Addiction treatment is very important tothis country’s war on drugs.
While these abusers are incarcerated it providesus with an excellent opportunity to give them treatment. The will not seektreatment on their own. Without treatment, the chances of them continuing onwith their past behavior are very high. But with the treatment programs we havetoday, things might be looking up. The studies done on the various programs,such as New York’s Stay’n Out and Delaware’s Key-Crest program, prove thatthere are cost effective ways available to treat these prisoners. Not only arethey cost effective, but they are also proven to reduce recidivism ratessignificantly.
These findings are very consistent throughout all of theresearch, there are not opposing views. I believe that we can effectively treatthese prisoners while they are incarcerated and they can be released intosociety and be productive, not destructive. Nothing else has worked to thispoint, we owe it to them, and more importantly, we owe it to ourselves. We canagain feel safe on the streets after dark, and we do not have to spend so muchof our money to do it. BibliographyBibliographyBall, J.
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