The need for prison-based addiction treatment is intense. In the most recent data from the Department of Justice in 2002, it was found that 68 percent of offenders reported symptoms of addiction in the year before their admission to jail that met addiction criteria. 16 percent of convicted offenders report they have committed their offense in order to get money for drugs. 63 percent of offenders who met addiction criteria had participated in some form of treatment in the past (James & Karberg, 2005).
Because convicted offenders tend to be locked up for longer periods than jail offenders, treatment possibilities in a prison setting are more far-reaching. The prison and treatment staff are in the best position to establish programs that fit the needs within their facility. In the best circumstances, offenders have the opportunity to abstain from substance use and learn new positive behaviors before release into the community (9 Treatment Issues, 2005).
Issues Affecting Treatment in Prison Settings
To determine the characteristics of one type of “criminal” personality that is shared by all offenders is nearly impossible. The hardened character traits and “manly” attitude adopted as part of the prison culture can discourage offenders from participating in treatment. The stigma associated with incarceration, combined with the effects of being imprisoned, often results in a bleak outlook on life. Some feel they are the victims of the legal system, and still others take pride in belonging to a sub-culture, and being outside of the majority culture. Prisoners often learn to create this type of identity as offenders in order to survive within the system (9 Treatment Issues, 2005).
Disincentives for Participation
There are factors—both perceived by the offender and characteristic in the system that may discourage involvement in a treatment program. Treatment programs often remove incentives to participate. The requirement and pressure to stop using drugs is often overwhelming and could been seen as a sign of weakness to other offenders. Increased attention of the offender on the job and in the treatment program which could result in the loss of relationships. There is a lack of desire to help one another. This is part of the prison culture. When money is required to buy items that are needed or wanted, the requirement to give up prison job in order to enter treatment is a huge endeavor. Offenders can face physical threats of violence from other offenders if they participate. Treatment inside the prison system is inadequate to the community if there are no services available upon release for the offender and they are more likely to drop out of any treatment program that not related to their needs. Limited treatment resources can be related to the lack of trained staff and available treatment models. Many offenders want treatment, but worried that programs may cause them to have lower status within the prison setting (9 Treatment...