September 28, 2016

Prison rehabilitation program gets an overhaul

9-28-16 Idaho:

Offenders sentenced to the rider treatment programs no longer will have the option of serving a 90-day stint.

The Council of State Governments reviewed the Idaho Department of Correction a year ago and found the department needed to modernize its programming.

As a part of a revamping of the all Department of Correction facilities, the rider program had new curricula added. A rider is served at an intensive rehabilitation facility where offenders enter treatment with the hope of diverting them from recidivism.

Ashley Dowell, Department of Correction’s Division of Prisons deputy chief, said in the past judges could sentence offenders to a 90-day, 120-day, nine-month or yearlong rehabilitation program.

“Their (the Council of State Governments) findings (on) our old programs was that they were complex and confusing and needed to be modernized,” Dowell said.

Formally known as the Retained Jurisdiction Program, minimum-security prisons located in Cottonwood and Kuna use therapy-based treatment to change offenders’ attitudes so that they don’t re-offend.

Under the new guidelines, individuals are now assessed on what kind of rehabilitation they need and, on average, those offenders will be incarcerated at the prisons for 180 days up to one year.

The curricula has been changed to include a substance abuse intervention program created by the University of Cincinnati, a sex offender rehabilitation program also created by the university, and shorter programs such as the aggression replacement training and “thinking for a change” program aimed at correcting criminal thinking.

The new programs are available at all prison facilities, not just rider facilities, Dowell said.

The substance abuse program was created in 2010 and is utilized by more than 75 agencies across the U.S. The sex offender treatment program is about a year old and is recommended for offenders who are a moderate- to high-risk to re-offend.

The programming includes discussion, role-playing and active participation in groups of eight to 10 inmates. The groups, guided by a facilitator, help identify triggers and promote problem-solving and social skills.

The therapeutic community rider used in the past has been eliminated, Dowell said. She said the department streamlined the curriculum and adopted the new programs because they are “evidence-based,” in mitigating recidivism.

She said the Council of State Governments submitted its report assessing the prison system in September 2015, and the staff at the Kuna and Cottonwood facilities were first to receive training and updated programs.

Dowell said no additional staffing was required to meet the new standards. Training, however, was the most costly portion of modernizing the programming. Dowell said the cost was offset by the open domain training material that can be printed for free.

“There was a little bit of a trade-off there,” she said. “We don’t have pay for the manuals to access the program material. Before we had to buy manuals at cost, so there was a manual per offender.”

When a judge retains jurisdiction over an offender and sends them on a rider, the judge periodically receives updates on the inmate’s progress and what kind of treatment they are receiving. Dowell said this did not change with overhaul.

“The programs we used for a long time initially showed good outcomes, then there were some mixed outcomes,” Dowell said.

With the new programs, inmates are receiving much more consistent, individualized rehabilitation, Dowell said. ..Source.. by TOM HOLM

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