Treatment Programs


Evaluation of Selected Institutional Offender Treatment Programs for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, November 2009

University of Cincinnati

The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the program integrity of five treatment programs with the State of Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections.  The five programs, Thinking for a Change, Batterer's Intervention, Violence Prevention, and sex offense specific programs were assessed to identify the effectiveness of each at providing evidence-based services.  In order to measure program integrity, the Evidence-Based Correctional Program Checklist (CPC) and the Evidence-Based Correctional Program Checklist-Group Assessment (CPC-GA) were used.  Of the institutions evaluated, organizational climate was also assessed to ascertain perspectives on treatment, important staff characteristics, and the specific treatment programs being assessed.

Fact Sheet

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Multi-Site Evaluation of Prison-Based Drug Treatment:  A Research Partnership Between the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Temple University, April 2009

Temple University

Therapeutic community (TC) drug treatment programs have become the preferred treatment approach in correctional settings. Previous evaluations of prison-based TC have produced promising results. However, studies have also been criticized for small sample sizes, less-than-optimal research designs, and insufficient attention to interactions between inmate characteristics, treatment process, and treatment outcomes. The purpose of this evaluation was to examine multiple, post-release outcomes over a post-release period of five years for inmates who participated in TC drug treatment programs or comparison groups at five Pennsylvania State Correctional Institutions (SCI's). Using a combination of automated databases and manual data collection techniques, post-release data (e.g., reincarceration, rearrest, drug relapse, employment) was collected on 2,693 cases admitted to a drug treatment program at five state correctional institutions (SCI) between January and November of 2000 with a post-release follow-up period to five years. Three different outcomes (reincarceration, rearrest, and drug relapse) were tracked for the experimental (TC) and control groups for up to five years or more, making these results comparable to the longest follow-up studies on prison TC conducted to date. Three main research questions were examined: how effective are in-prison TC programs in reducing drug relapse and recidivism rates (rearrest and reincarceration), and do in-prison therapeutic community programs improve long term outcomes of released offenders (i.e., length of time without drug relapse, rearrest or reincarceration); which kinds of inmates benefit most from in-prison TC programs; and how do inmate v. programmatic factors independently and interactively influence long term outcomes. The evaluation showed that TC had a strong, significant impact on reducing the probability of reincarceration over the five year follow-up period. The effect on rearrest was marginally significant; the effect on drug relapse was minimal.

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An Outcome Evaluation of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' Community Orientation and Reintegration Program, May 2008

International Association of Reentry (IAR)

With the increases in prison populations and the rising costs of incarceration nationwide, top officials at all levels of government are focusing on the concept of reentry as a process to transition offenders back into the community without compromising public safety. The growing concern about the failure of the criminal justice system to safely return prisoners home, as evidenced by high recidivism rates, has prompted a renewed interest in how prisoners are prepared for release and how they are linked with critical support and services in the community upon their reentry into society. Although reentry programs are receiving funding from federal, state, and local governments, we have only recently started to critically examine how these programs are doing in reaching their goals of reduced recidivism and improved outcomes that emphasize employment, training, housing, and treatment services for offenders after release from prison. With an emphasis on public safety, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) created a reentry program to address issues of prison overcrowding and the increases in the costs of incarceration. The reentry program, called Community Orientation and Reintegration (COR), used the "What Works" literature to develop the curriculum, which the DOC delivered in two phases--an in-prison program and a program provided in the Community Corrections Centers (CCC's). The curriculum was a "refresher" course designed to draw on the knowledge and skills that the inmates received from participating in other programs offered in the prison system. Reducing recidivism, increasing the employment rates and wages for program participants, and decreasing post-release substance abuse were important goals of the COR program. The study found failures of COR Completers compared to the Control Group for almost every recidivism, employment, and substance abuse measure used in the outcome evaluation.

Executive Summary

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Evaluation of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Component, September 2007

University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development

This evaluation focused on the treatment component of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) project and its impact upon participants. The evaluation examined the PTSD treatment curriculum, the treatment groups, and the response of delinquent female PTSD victims to service delivery. Earlier research supported the relationship between victimization and future antisocial behaviors including violent crime, aggression, and/or substance abuse. This study utilized a quasi-experimental design, tracking the female participants for at least one year after treatment.


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Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Education Outcome Study, May 2005

Correctional Education Association (CEA)

This study reports the findings from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' (DOC) Education Outcome Study (EOS). A previous report documented the process evaluation of the academic and vocational programs implemented and operated within DOC with emphasis on the vocational program (Phase 1). This report (Phase 2) focuses on the outcomes, specifically how well correctional education programs in Pennsylvania work in reducing recidivism and increasing employment opportunities after release from incarceration. We used both a treatment (those inmates who participated in education programs while incarcerated) and a comparison (those who did not participate in any correctional education programming during incarceration) group of inmates for our study population who were released between 2001 and 2003. This report includes: a literature review of correctional education programming; a brief overview of the Pennsylvania DOC's correctional education program, the purpose of the evaluation; research methodology including hypotheses, research design, limitations of the study, data collection instruments and measures, data collection procedures, data analyses, study population characteristics and a discussion of selection bias; results including recidivism and employment; and conclusions and recommendations.

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Evaluation of Prison-Based Therapeutic Community Drug Treatment, May 2003

Temple University

This project examined multiple post-release outcomes for inmates who participated in Therapeutic Community (TC) drug treatment programs or comparison groups at five Pennsylvania State Correctional Institutions. The project is greatly facilitated by inmate and program data already collected through a Research Partnership between the Department of Corrections and Temple University. TC emphasizes the necessity of the inmate taking responsibility for his/her behavior before, during, and after treatment. This study examined individual and programmatic factors associated with effective drug treatment across multiple sites. Recommendations were formulated with the intent to assist correctional agencies in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs that are responsive to the drug treatment needs of their prison populations. TC inmates evidenced numerous positive improvements in psychosocial functioning and involvement in treatment over the first six months of treatment. Positive effects of TC treatment were found upon reincarceration and rearrest rates, but not drug relapse rates.

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Appendix 1

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Appendix 4

Evaluation of the Substance Abuse Violators Effort (SAVE) Program, December 2002

University of Maryland

The SAVE program evaluation had five components: 1) a descriptive report of enrollees; 2) predictive characteristic models to identify graduates and dropouts; 3) comparative follow-up analysis of enrollees and non-participating offenders; 4) qualitative data to examine the SAVE program's impact on offender needs; and 5) an economic analysis of the program. The study also reported that 328 or 86% of the participants completed Phase One; 32.4% of the SAVE enrollees completed Phase 4. Logistic regression analysis revealed that older offenders and those who had not used heroin in the 30 days prior to enrollment were most likely to complete the program.

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Treating Repeat Parole Violators: A Review of Pennsylvania's Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) Program, October 2002

Vera Institute of Justice

The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners (RSAT) program provides 12 months of intensive substance abuse treatment to male technical parole violators who are returned to the state prison system. The program includes three phases: (1) prison-based treatment in a therapeutic community setting separated from the general population; (2) outpatient treatment while living in a community corrections center; and (3) an aftercare phase once offenders are returned to parole status. This is an evaluation of the community and aftercare phases of RSAT. Drawing upon program observation, participant and staff interviews, focus groups, and a file review, the report explores issues in the programs' implementation, the rates at which RSAT participants complete the program, and whether participation leads to lower rates of criminal recidivism.

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See also:

Breaking the Cycle:  Outcomes from Pennsylvania's Alternative to Prison for Technical Parole Violators

Collaborative Evaluation of Pennsylvania's Program for Drug-Involved Parole Violators

The Effect of Participation in a Therapeutic Community Treatment Program on Three Dimensions of Recidivism, July 2000

Dauphin County Prison and Shippensburg University

The project provided Dauphin County Prison with a more accurate and realistic calculation of the monthly institutional recidivism rate. The evaluation results also substantiated the theory that Therapeutic Communities programs are having a positive effect on recidivism. Changes in the DCP agency resource allocation, in particular the Therapeutic Communities, were recommended as a result of this study.