Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $931,749)
Published studies have long established a strong connection between illegal drugs and criminal activity. Additionally, analysis of recidivists indicated a significant correlation with drug use, crime, and repeated incarcerations. The cycle continues to be an ever-growing problem within Alabama and an escalating burden to Alabama’s families, resources and economy. Such drug-connected crime, which leads to initial incarceration and subsequent recidivism, is a major factor in prison crowding and demand on critical rehabilitative resources.
The ADOC defines a recidivist as a previously incarcerated individual who returns to prison with a 3-year period. He recidivism rate is calculated for the general population as well as by specific categories. The most recent available data if for the ADOC’s inmates who were release in Calendar Year 2019. The data indicates that for Calendar Year 2019 the recidivism rate for ADOC inmates who completed the RSAT program was 28.90%.
The underlying causes of addiction are complex. However, addiction is a treatable disease. Given the myriad of causes, Alabama is faced with a large number of addicts who regularly commit criminal activity to satisfy their addictions. Addicts commit crimes at a rate many times greater than non-addicted individuals. Illegal drugs can be readily purchased in any major city, and measures designed at controlling the supply of drugs and punishing traffickers have been less than effective.
A significant number of inmates entering the ADOC’s correctional system self-report a history of illicit drug use and many are with co-occurring mental health issues. Both require extensive resources as part of the rehabilitative process. A Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners program that incorporates a broad range of evidenced based practices, which includes a cognitive behavioral intervention strategy, would be an effective tool in reducing recidivism.
According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Criminal thinking” is a combination of attitudes and beliefs that support a criminal lifestyle and criminal behavior, such as feeling entitled to have things one’s own way, feeling that one’s criminal behavior is justified, failing to accept responsibility for one’s actions, and consistently failing to anticipate or appreciate the consequences of one’s behavior. This pattern of thinking often contributes to drug use and criminal behavior. Treatment that provides specific cognitive skills training to help individuals recognize errors in judgment that lead to drug abuse and criminal behavior may improve outcomes.