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Model Policy For Treatment & Enforcement Coordination (TECS)
Substance Abuse and the Prison Population: Aftercare

This policy developed in collaboration with

Next Generation, California Tobacco Coalition Alliance
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

Policy MATTERS is a prevention-focused health policy resource guide developed and published by CCHI.
For more information, or to contribute your policy ideas, call CCHI at 916 646.2149


Substance abuse is a chronic relapsing condition. Without continued aftercare services, many parolees will continue to use drugs, commit crimes and get re-arrested. Currently, few parolees are given access to drug treatment and many are sent back to prison for violations involving positive drug tests. Overall, during 1995, 110,802 parolees were incarcerated for violations of their parole conditions - many involving positive drug tests (1). To reduce the likelihood of relapse, long-term management programs and aftercare should be available to inmates being released from prison.


Provide long-term aftercare services for parolees who need them to help prevent relapse into the criminal justice system.

Prisons and jails can assist inmates and help reduce crime by getting released inmates to participate in community-based treatment services. Without follow-up treatment in the community, the benefits of prison services, such as drug and alcohol treatment, educational and vocational training, and psychological and medical care given to the inmate, will be undermined.

The effectiveness of treatment can be enhanced by careful pre-release transition planning. This entails identification of treatment and other service needs such as drug-free housing, literacy training, job placement and social services; referrals to community-based programs; support to help inmates avoid people, places and situations that trigger relapse; and a mechanism for adequate post-release supervision.

Opportunity to Succeed (OPTS), a CASA demonstration program, seeks to pull together all of the services parolees need to become productive, tax-paying citizens: drug and alcohol treatment and aftercare, job training, health and social services, assistance in getting a job and drug-free housing. An early lesson of this test program is that timely intervention is crucial. Many parolees who were not met at the prison gates by support personnel abused alcohol and/or drugs on the day of their release.


Aftercare and transition services that motivate parolees to join community treatment, residential treatment services, intermediate care, halfway houses or work release programs are essential components of an effective treatment program (2). The benefits of prison-based treatment are greater when released inmates participate in aftercare programs, as the following examples illustrate.

bulletForever Free, a program operated by the California Department of Corrections for female inmates approaching their parole dates, reduced the rate of return to custody to 38 percent for all program graduates, compared with 62 percent for program dropouts. Participation in community-based treatment further increased the likelihood of successful outcomes - reducing the rate of return to custody to 28 percent for program graduates with some community treatment and 10 percent for graduates with at least five months of community treatment (3).
bulletAmity Righturn, which features a three-month community re-entry component, reduced re-incarceration rates within one year of parole to 26 percent for Amity graduates who completed aftercare, compared with 43 percent for Amity graduates who did not participate in aftercare, 50 percent for Amity program dropouts and 63 percent for a matched comparison group (4).
bulletOregon's Parole Transition Program identifies inmates' service needs and develops community program linkages before the inmate is released. Preliminary assessments of the Parole Transition Program found that clients had lower rates of re-arrest one year after release compared to their rates before incarceration. Furthermore, 60 percent of the clients were still drug-free six months after release (5).


CASA at Columbia University, 152 West 57th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10019-3310. Phone: 212-841-5200. Fax: (212) 956-8020. Website:

Forever Free Program, California Department of Corrections, Office of Substance Abuse Programs, P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283. Phone: (916) 327-3707.

Gary Field, Ph.D. Administrative Counseling and Treatment Services, Oregon's Parole Transition Program, 2575 Center St. NE, Salem, Oregon. Phone: (503) 378-8373. Fax: (503) 378-5118. Email:


1. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs and U.S. Department of Justice (June 30, 1996). Probation and Parole Population Reaches Almost 3.9 million. Washington, DC.

2. Taxman F, Spinner D (1997). Jail Addiction Services (JAS) Demonstration Project in Montgomery County, Maryland: Jail and Community Based Substance Abuse Treatment Program Model: Final Report. Unpublished Report: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Maryland Governor's Commission on Drugs and Alcohol Abuse, Montgomery County Government.

3. California Department of Corrections, Office of Substance Abuse Programs (1995). California Department of Corrections Overview of Substance Abuse Programs. Sacramento, CA.

4. Lipton DS and National Institute of Justice (1995). The Effectiveness of Treatment for Drug Abusers Under Criminal Justice Supervision. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.

5. Field G, Karacki M and Washington County Community Corrections (1992). Outcome Study of the Parole Transition Release Project. Salem, OR: Oregon Department of Corrections.


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