Correlates of Recidivism for Women Parolees From Prison-Based Treatment in California

Nena Messina, University of California, Los Angeles

The extent to which traditional therapeutic community (TC) methods meet the specialized treatment needs of drug-dependent women in prison is largely unknown. Drug-dependent women offenders entering prison-based TC treatment programs often report severe levels of poly-drug abuse, psychological impairment, and histories of sexual/physical abuse. Very little research has been conducted specifically with this population and the degree to which these factors are related to recidivism is uncertain. The purpose of this study is to identify critical factors that are related to the reincarceration rates of women offenders who paroled from prison-based TC treatment programs. Extensive treatment intake interview data for 2,512 women from eight prison-based TCs in California was compared using Chi-square analysis and t-tests to identify preexisting differences for those who were (19%) and those who were not (81%) returned to custody within 12-months of their parole date. Intake data come from a five-year process and outcome evaluation of the California Department of Corrections' (CDC) treatment expansion initiative. The return-to-custody data come from the CDCs Offender Based Information System (OBIS). Logistic regression analyses was used to indicate which women are at greater risk of reincarceration. Preliminary findings show that women with psychological impairments were most likely to be reincarcerated within 12-months of their parole, compared with women with no psychological impairments. Sexual/physical abuse and polydrug use were unrelated to reincarceration. These findings indicate a need for developing more comprehensive and effective treatment plans for dually-diagnosed women offenders. Future exploration from this study could provide valuable information on the types of services and approaches that should be emphasized when treating dually-diagnosed women in prison-based TCs.

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Updated 05/20/2006