On average, 70% of released prison inmates reenter the prison system after 5 years (Zhang et al., 2010). This relatively high statistics makes us ask the question, is the Department of Corrections really making any corrections? Therapeutic Communities, implemented in the prison setting, have provided an alternative to traditional convict treatment. They have shown mixed results of effectiveness, and are costly to the state and nation. Are they truly worth the money? Providing help to the prison population is beneficial, no matter the cost. This applies unconditionally to prisoners not serving a life sentence. If a prisoner will be freed, what has his time in jail done for him other than served as punishment? It is called the Department of “Corrections” after all (Alaska Therapeutic Community). Rehabilitation is an important part of the prison system, and the Therapeutic Community is a valuable resource for all prisons. It is an immersive program that takes prisoners with drug-related crimes and helps them heal through an in-patient program lasting from 8 months to a multitude of years. From the prisoners’ point of view, it is seen as a source of hope in a comparatively grey world. Many prisoners either have not had the opportunity to rehabilitate, or have failed in the past. When other treatments don’t work, the new TC program provides a valuable alternative type of treatment. At the beginning of each member’s term in the program, a “life mentor” is assigned. This life mentor has also had a history with drugs and/or crime, and serves as a sense of empathy and guidance throughout the program. This close one-on-one relationship is what truly makes TC’s so unique (Program Profile: Therapeutic Community). Not to mention, inmates in the program are isolated from the rest of the prison in a separate block, completely dedicated to the residential community. In a video on one Alaskan prison TC, the superintendent of the program is asked “Why...
Cited: Zhang, S. X., R. E. L. Roberts, and K. E. Mccollister. "Therapeutic Community in a California Prison: Treatment Outcomes After 5 Years." Crime & Delinquency 57.1 (2010): 82-101. Print.
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Griffith, J. D., M. L. Hiller, K. Knight, and D. D. Simpson. "A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of In-Prison Therapeutic Community Treatment and Risk Classification. "The Prison Journal 79.3 (1999): 352-68. Print.
GMPO3 “Alaska Therapeutic Community.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, Dec. 16, 2009. Web. Feb. 27 2014.
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Zhang, Sheldon X., Robert E.l. Roberts, and Kathryn E. Mccollister. "An Economic Analysis of the In-prison Therapeutic Community Model on Prison Management Costs." Journal of Criminal Justice 37.4 (2009): 388-95. Print.
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