Program Retention and an Incarcerated Population: An Assessment of Individual Level Factors and Perceptual Determinants of Program Completion

Erik Faust Dietz, University of Delaware
Daniel J. O'Connell, University of Delaware
Frank Scarpitti, University of Delaware

Attrition rates for in-prison treatment programs typically hover around 50% or higher. Program completion is essential for treatment to be an effective and viable source of recidivism reduction. Factors associated with treatment retention are well understood in regards to community based and out-patient treatment programs. They are less well understood for those programs that exist within prisons. It is quite possible that those variables associated with treatment completion in non-incarceration settings would have differential effects with an incarcerated population. Therefore, those factors associated with treatment retention for non-incarcerated populations (e.g., prior treatment experience, race, age, etc.) are examined for groups of inmates who either completed or dropped out of an in-prison treatment program during the 2 year study period. For those who quit, or were removed for behavioral reasons, factors associated with length of stay in treatment are also explored. Further, semi-structured interviews with groups of program refusers and those who volunteered for treatment are also conducted. Findings, along with suggestions for programmatic changes and more broad policy recommendations are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006