Which Inmates Participate in Prison Treatment Programs?

by Joan R. Petersilia

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This analysis relies on interview data collected on over 10,000 state prison inmates, then weighted so results represent 191,000 inmates in state prisons. Results show 41 percent of inmates nationwide participate in some treatment program while incarcerated. Each inmate was classified as to his need for treatment: alcohol rehabilitation, drug rehabilitation, job training, and education. An inmate's need for treatment was then compared to actual treatment received. It was found that 22 percent need alcohol rehabilitation, 23 percent need drug rehabilitation, 31 percent need job training, and 68 percent need further education. In comparing need with treatment received, about one in four or five inmates with identified needs participates in programs related to his needs. Younger inmates more often receive education and job training, and older, alcohol treatment. Blacks are more likely to receive drug treatment, and whites, alcohol treatment. There is no association between commitment offense and participation in programs.

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