- The Evidence Base on Prison Programs and Recidivism
A. Rigorous Evaluations of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Programs
ii. Substance Abuse Programs
Kilmer et al. (2013) evaluates the effectiveness of South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project that made twice-a-day breathalyzer tests a requirement for bail eligibility for individuals who had been re-arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. Using a cross sectional data from South Dakota counties, the authors find that the program resulted in a statistically significant reduction in recidivism of 12 percent for repeat DUI arrests.Hawken and Kleiman (2011) analyzed the effects of the Washington Intensive Supervision Program, a project designed to determine whether the principles of effective community supervision reduced recidivism. Using a randomized controlled trial, their results demonstrate a statistically significant result of a decrease in recidivism of 64 percent in the 6 months following release.There are some studies that have shown no impact on recidivism. For example, Grommon et al. (2013) examine the effects of a drug treatment program with appropriate punishment based on the results from drug tests taken at random times. The authors use a randomized control trial, which requires frequent drug-testing for both groups and is focused on parolees who return to urban locations. Their results show no significant difference in recidivism between the control and treatment groups 18 months post-release. In addition, O’Connell et al. (2016) evaluate the impact of a program which incorporates principles of deterrence, graduated sanctions, and coerced abstinence on recidivism rates for 400 high-risk parolees. Using a randomized controlled trial, the authors find no statistically significant reduction in recidivism for program participants.