Department of Corrections’ Evaluation Leads to Insight on Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program Success

June 10, 2019

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - Gant Team in Local News HARRISBURG

 

Department of Corrections officials on Tuesday announced results of an internal therapeutic communities (TCs) evaluation, specifically the effectiveness of the DOC’s outpatient (OPT)* and substance use disorder (SUD) TCs, including recidivism and relapse outcomes and cost benefit analyses.

 

“Over the years, as is the case with all of our programs, we have made improvements to the policy and procedures that govern the operation of our SUD programs, including our TCs,” DOC Secretary John Wetzel said.

 

“This evaluation confirms our belief that slight modifications in inmate program placement could result in substantial taxpayer cost avoidance, while not having a negative impact on outcomes.”

 

The report, released in June, titled “Therapeutic Communities (TC) Evaluation,” found that there were no significant differences in recidivism or relapse outcomes between TC and OPT participants.

 

The evaluation recommended that, with slight modifications in current SUD policy, there is the potential for huge cost avoidance. These are:

  • A potential for approximately $5.8 million in savings if there are changes in the override process for placement in the TCs. The evaluation showed that many inmates who scored less than a six on Texas Christian University Drug Screen (TCU) ended up going to TC instead of OPT. This occurred due to the ability to increase an inmates TC score, through the override process.

  • An additional potential savings of $2.3 million could be made if the DOC moved the TCU score up to seven as the cut-off for TC placement.

 

The report recommended future DOC evaluations continue to assess the impact of TCs and to ensure continuity of care directly after SUD treatment in prison, as well as upon release to community supervision.

 

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