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7.7: California Rehabilitative Reform

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    In 2004, the State of California began a massive reorganization of their prison system. California was suffering from massive prison overcrowding and there was massive pressure from both inside the system and from the Court. After decades of incapacitation, the Department of Corrections shifted its focus to rehabilitation. However, this time it was going to be measurable and effective by offering evidence-based treatment programs designed to reduce recidivism. Recidivism – returning offenders to custody after a violation or commission of a crime – was one of the biggest factors in the rising prison population. Prisons had become a revolving door with about 43% of released offenders being returned to custody within three years. Something had to change.

    One of the first things the California Department of Corrections (CDC) did was to change their name to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). This change was to identify their focus was moving to not just incarceration but to focus on rehabilitation. Their mission was to return to the community offenders who could become productive and valuable members of the community. They did this by overhauling their system, adding education programs, job training, effective substance abuse treatment programs, cognitive behavior programs, and re-entry programs to improve the outcomes upon release. Massive overhaul of the California Youth Authority also occurred during this time. (To be discussed in Chapter 8).

    California Enacts Major Change with Division of Addiction and Recovery Services (DARS)

    Two significant events occurred between May and September 2007. In May 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed landmark legislation, the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007 (AB 900). This statute fundamentally changes California’s correctional system by focusing on rehabilitative programming for offenders as a direct way to improve public safety upon return of inmates to their communities. In September 2007, the Undersecretary of Adult Programs was 5 appointed, overseeing the DARS, Education and Vocation; Community Partnerships; Correctional Health Care Services; Victim & Survivor Rights and Services; and Prison Industry Authority.

    Assembly Bill (AB) 900 is a major effort to reform California’s prison system by reducing prison overcrowding and increasing rehabilitative programming. DARS has responsibility for two of thirteen benchmarks established by AB 900 that must be met prior to the release of funds for construction projects outlined in the bill.

    They are:

    1.) At least 2,000 substance abuse treatment slots have been established with aftercare in the community. (The bill requires a total of 4,000 new in-prison substance abuse treatment slots with aftercare in the community overall), and

    2.) Prison institutional drug treatment slots have averaged at least 75 percent participation over the previous six months.

    DARS met the benchmark to add 2,000 in-prison substance abuse slots with aftercare in the community on December 30, 2008. At that point, all of the new programs were operational, and inmates were participating in treatment. DARS added approximately 55,000 square feet of new programming space to five institutions and one community correctional facility. In addition, between April 2007 and December 2008, the Department expanded community care participation by 2,960 treatment slots. This is a 119 percent growth in community care participation from 2,498 in April 2007 to 5,458 participants in December 2008.

    In March 1, 2009, DARS began piloting the Interim Computerized Attendance Tracking System (ICATS) at Solano and Folsom State Prisons to monitor in-prison substance abuse program utilization. This system will be implemented at all in-prison substance abuse programs to ensure that substance abuse treatment program utilization is captured and sustained at 75 percent or above. In June 2007, the Expert Panel recommended the California Logic Model as this state’s approach to integrating evidence-based principles into its rehabilitation programming. (See Appendix A, page 60). The Governor’s Rehabilitation Strike Team provided guidelines on how to implement the Expert Panel recommendations.

    DARS has been challenged to provide quality evidence-based rehabilitative treatment programs aligned with the California Logic Model. This rehabilitation programming implements programs based on inmate risk to recidivate and assessment of individual needs that will better prepare offenders for successful community reentry and reintegration. The Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) and CDCR’s Addiction Severity Index (ASI) assessment tools will guide CDCR in placing the right offender in the right program at the right time.

    DARS is continuing to develop programs that address the substance use disorder needs of its inmate population. Today, DARS delivers a redesigned program model that is trauma-informed, gender-responsive and includes standards and measures. In addition to the current modified Therapeutic Community, Cognitive Behavioral 6 Treatment and Psycho-Educational Treatment models are being included to better address the needs of offenders. Currently, DARS manages more than 12,000 substance abuse treatment slots in 44 programs at 21 institutions. In addition, as of the June 30, 2008, 5,503 parolees participated daily in community-based Substance Abuse Treatment, or “continuing care” programs, throughout the State. DARS achieved major milestones in CDCR’s mission to strengthen substance abuse recovery programs, to reduce recidivism, and to increase public safety.

    Return-to-prison rates are significantly reduced for offenders completing in-prison and community-based substance abuse treatment programs

    The utility of corrections-based treatment for substance abusing offenders has spurred both research and debate this decade. The Prison Journal contains reports on the nation’s three largest prison-based treatment studies. These studies, being conducted in California, Delaware, and Texas, offer further evidence that substance abuse treatment for appropriate correctional populations can work when adequate attention is given to engagement, motivation, and aftercare. 1 Corrections-based treatment policy should emphasize a continuum of care model (from institution to community) with high quality programs and services. 2 1 (Simpson, D.D., Wexler, H.K., & Inciardi, J.A. (Eds.) (September/December, 1999). Special issue on drug treatment outcomes for correctional settings, parts 1 & 2. The Prison Journal, 79 (3/4). 2 (Hiller, M. L., Knight, K., & Simpson, D. D. (1999). Prison-based substance abuse treatment, residential aftercare and recidivism. Addiction, 94(6), 833-842. DARS’ multi-year commitment to linking inmates who have completed in-prison substance abuse programs with community-based substance abuse treatment programs is proving to be a successful combination. The most recent data which followed offenders who paroled in 2005-06 for a one-year and a two-year period demonstrates that the recidivism rate was reduced for offenders who completed in-prison substance abuse treatment programs – with a more substantial reduction in recidivism for offenders completing in-prison followed by community-based substance abuse treatment programs.

    Recidivism, or return-to-prison, is defined as a paroled offender returning to prison for any reason during a specified time period. This includes offenders who are returned to Substance-Abuse Treatment-Control Units in correctional facilities; returned pending a revocation hearing by the Board of Parole Hearings on charges of violating the conditions of parole; returned to custody for parole violations to serve revocation time; or returned to custody by a court for a new felony conviction.


    Figure 7.3 Demonstrated a lower return-to-prison rate for female offenders who completed both in-prison and community-based substance abuse treatment in Fiscal Year (FY) 2005-06 (8.8 percent after one year and 16.5 percent after two years) as compared to the return-to-prison rate for all CDCR female offenders (30.1 percent after one year and 43.7 after two years).


    Figure 7.4 Demonstrated a lower return-to-prison rate for male offenders who completed both in-prison and community-based substance abuse treatment in FY 2005-06 (25.4 percent after one year and 40.4 percent after two years) as compared to the return-to-prison rate for all CDCR male offenders (41.2 percent after one year and 55.6 percent after two years).


    Implemented historic evidence-based rehabilitation reforms

    During FY 2007-08, DARS also played a major role in historic reforms to bring evidence-based rehabilitation to California’s correctional system. These reforms use evidence-based rehabilitation – academic, vocational, substance abuse and other programs – to help offenders succeed when they return to their communities and reduce the State’s recidivism rate. The major principles of evidence-based programs include: research-based risk and needs assessments, targeting of criminogenic needs, skills-oriented, responsivity to an individual’s unique characteristics, program intensity (dosage), continuity of care, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. To integrate these evidence-based principles, DARS:

    • Demonstrated that the national research which states that in-prison substance abuse treatment followed by community-based aftercare reduces recidivism.
    • Integrated evidence-based treatment services in DARS’ treatment model. DARS solicited input for its treatment model from experts in the field including the CDCR Expert Panel, the DARS Treatment Advisory Committee and outside evaluators. This treatment design now includes Cognitive Behavioral Treatment and Psycho-Educational Interventions as well as the modified Therapeutic Community model. DARS in-prison substance abuse provider contracts now include the requirement that programs offer all of these models. Also included in this expanded treatment model is individualized treatment planning based on risk and needs assessment from COMPAS as an initial screening tool and the ASI as a secondary assessment instrument.
    • Implemented recommendations in “The Master Plan for Female Offenders: A Blueprint for Gender-Responsive Rehabilitation 2008” from the Division of Adult Institutions’ Female Offender Programs and Services (FOPS) office, and national experts including Barbara Bloom, Ph.D., Stephanie Covington, Ph.D., Barbara Owen, Ph.D., Nena Messina, Ph.D. and Christine Grella, Ph.D. These recommendations have informed CDCR’s approach to providing Gender Responsive and Trauma-Informed Treatment for female offenders.
    • Opened the first-of-its-kind Trauma-Informed Gender-Responsive substance abuse treatment program for female offenders at Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility. This program was implemented in collaboration with CDCR’s FOPS Division. This evidence-based model will be included in all AB 900 slots being added at Central California Women’s Facility and Valley State Prison for Women.
    • Participated in launching a pilot project at California State Prison, Solano, to implement and assess the effectiveness of DARS’ expanded treatment model, which includes science-based risk and needs assessment tools, risk-needs responsive treatment services and integrated treatment services. Placement of inmates is based on their risk to reoffend and their need for rehabilitative programs. CDCR is initially targeting offenders with a moderate to high risk to reoffend for placement in intensive rehabilitation programs that include substance abuse, vocation and education, anger management, and criminal thinking.

    New Evidence-Based Rehabilitation Treatment Model

    The goal of evidence-based rehabilitation is to reduce recidivism by implementing the five principles of effective intervention:

    • Risk Principle: Target high-risk offenders
    • Need Principle: Treat risk factors associated with offending behavior
    • Treatment Principle: Employ evidence-based treatment approaches
    • Responsivity Principle: Tailor treatments to meet special needs
    • Fidelity Principle: Monitor implementation, quality, and treatment fidelity

    Substance Abuse Programs represent one of several core offender rehabilitation program areas that also include: Education; Vocation; Criminal Thinking, Behaviors and Associations; and Anger, Hostility and Violence Management. Integrated service delivery fosters rehabilitation by incorporating various types of treatment that correspond to each individual’s unique needs, instead of a standard set of services. Practitioners within the fields of education, vocation, substance abuse treatment, and mental health will collaborate to design individualized treatment plans and analyze and monitor the overall impact of all treatment services for each individual.

    All in-prison adult programs are being aligned with the California Logic Model.

    The California Logic Model is a detailed, sequential description of how California will apply evidence-based principles and practices and effectively deliver a core set of rehabilitation programs. Research shows that to achieve positive outcomes, correctional agencies must provide rehabilitative programs to the right inmate at the right time and in a manner consistent with evidence-based programming design. The Logic Model includes the following eight components:

    1) Assess High Risk

    2) Assess Needs

    3) Develop Behavior Management Plan

    4) Deliver Programs

    5) Measure Progress

    6) Prep for Re-entry

    7) Reintegrate

    8) Follow-Up.

    DARS provides coordinated services for inmates and parolees by working with partners in statewide law enforcement, health, and social services communities. It provides broad-based substance abuse treatment programs in correctional facilities that include transitional programs preparing inmates for release on parole, and community-based substance abuse treatment programs. Community-based organizations and state and local governmental agencies are assisting DARS in carrying out its mission. Community-based substance abuse treatment contractors provide most of the services for DARS inmates and parolee offender participants.

    7.7: California Rehabilitative Reform is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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