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Cuts to Substance Abuse Treatment in Prison Leads to Longer Jail Sentences

Officials say that in many states, budget cuts which eliminate substance abuse treatment programs in jails actually end up costing taxpayers more money, as inmates can’t comply with treatment recommendations that would earn them early parole and release.

Corrections officials say that substance abuse treatment programs often get eliminated or downsized in times of budget cutting. Unfortunately, what is done to save money can actually increase expenditures, as inmates are unable to get the kinds of addiction treatment that lead to early parole and release.

  • Texas is proposing to cut $23 million from the state corrections treatment budget
  • Kansas has cut prison treatment services by 60%
  • At Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility in Iowa, the elimination of 75% of the counseling staff has meant that 40 sex offenders will receive no treatment this year
  • California has cut its substance abuse contract counselors by 80%

Research shows that inmates with substance abuse problems are far more likely to reoffend. Unfortunately, according to Columbia University, only 11% of inmates needing treatment will get it.

With 60% less treatment programs available, Kansas Secretary of Corrections, Roger Werholtz, is feeling apprehensive, saying, “Our concern is that this will make it more difficult for inmates to put together valid release plans and will increase the probability that they will be unable to comply with conditions of their release or reoffend at a higher rate. We're just real nervous."

Should Texas go through with their proposed treatment cuts, 1300 fewer inmates would receive addiction treatment and 2000 more would lose access to substance abuse counseling.

Texas Sen. John Whitmire serves as the chair of the Texas Senate criminal Justice Committee. He opposes the proposed cuts, saying, "People say, 'How can you afford to (fund) this?’ My comeback is, 'How can you afford not to?”

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