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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
July/August 2015
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Substance abuse treatment programs at TDCJ

By Larry Don Miles, TBCJ member

Larry Don Miles, TBCJ member
Larry Don Miles

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice utilizes many programs to enhance offenders' abilities to remain crime free, thereby reducing recidivism. The Rehabilitation Programs Division is the treatment coordinating entity of the TDCJ. In facilitating effective treatment delivery, the RPD coordinates with the Parole Division, the Community Justice Assistance Division and the Correctional Institutions Division to provide substance abuse treatment services for individual offenders throughout their entire incarceration and supervision period.

TDCJ substance abuse treatment programs are intensive treatment programs delivered through a therapeutic community treatment modality that includes: the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, the In-Prison Therapeutic Community, the Pre-Release Substance Abuse program, the Pre-Release Therapeutic Community, the State Jail Substance Abuse program and the Driving While Intoxicated In-Prison Recovery program. All programs utilize a behavioral, cognitive approach based on evidence-based practices that includes gender specific substance abuse treatment, relationships and trauma counseling, parenting and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Substance Abuse Felony Punishment program and the In-Prison Therapeutic Community are both intensive six-month programs (nine months for offenders with special needs) that include pregnant offenders. Offenders participating in the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment program may be placed there by a judge as a condition or modification of community supervision, or be required to participate by the Board of Pardons and Paroles as a modification of parole. Offenders placed in the In-Prison Therapeutic Community program are within six months of release and are identified as needing substance abuse treatment. The Board of Pardons and Paroles votes to place qualified offenders in this program. Both programs consist of three phases that include learning basic language and rules, exposing addiction, offender thinking errors and drug seeking behaviors, and practicing relapse prevention and pro-social problem solving techniques. A Continuum of Care Aftercare component is required that may include a transitional treatment center for up to 90 days, then six to nine months of supportive outpatient and up to 12 months of support groups and follow-up.

The Pre-Release Substance Abuse program and the Pre-Release Therapeutic Community are intensive, six-month programs based on the principles of the therapeutic community. The programs are intended for incarcerated offenders with serious substance abuse, chemical dependency or criminal ideology issues. Offenders are placed in the programs based on a vote by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Offenders completing this program and releasing to parole or mandatory supervision are placed on a therapeutic community specialized caseload while under supervision.

The State Jail Substance Abuse program is a multi-modal program designed to accommodate the diverse characteristics and individual needs of the State Jail population. The program structure comprises two tiers and the components for both tiers include clinical groups and individual sessions, therapeutic processing, cognitive behavioral restructuring, recovery and self-help groups, DWI interventions and family services.

The Driving While Intoxicated In-Prison Recovery program is a six-month, multi-modal program with an aftercare component that accommodates the diversity of needs presented in this population to maximize the potential for success for each offender. This program contains a variety of educational modules and treatment activities including group and individual therapy. Eligible offenders must have an active DWI conviction and are either assigned by TDCJ or voted by the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

In addition to these intensive treatment programs, chemical dependency screening is provided to all offenders as soon as possible upon intake to TDCJ. Twelve-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and approved alternative secular groups are available for all offenders. Volunteers are recruited and utilized to enhance the twelve-step and secular recovery group meetings.

The mission of TDCJ's substance abuse treatment programs is to provide evidence-based substance abuse treatment services appropriate to the needs of individual offenders to facilitate positive change, and to provide accountability for programming utilizing assessment tools developed specifically for this population, all of which leads to reducing recidivism and improving public safety. The positive impact of substance abuse treatment and other TDCJ programs designed to promote a successful reentry into society is reflected by a recidivism rate of 21.4 percent for prison offenders, one of the lowest, if not the lowest recidivism rate in the country.

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