Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for Women in Prison: One-year Post-Release Outcomes

Elizabeth Hall, University of California - Los Angeles
Michael Prendergast, UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs
Jean Wellisch, University of California - Los Angeles

Designed specifically for women, the Forever Free Substance Abuse Treatment Program at the California Institution for Women (CIW) consists of an intensive six-month program provided to volunteering women inmates during the end of their imprisonment. The program uses a psychoeducational model combined with a strong 12-step emphasis. Upon release, women may also volunteer for an additional six months of residential treatment in the community. Clients in the Forever Free program who agreed to participate in the study (n=119) were administered an intake instrument at one month into treatment and a pre-release instrument just prior to paroling to the community. Comparison group women (N=96), drawn from those who had volunteered for a short-duration drug and alcohol education program, completed an intake instrument only. Both groups were also interviewed one year post-release. The women who attended Forever Free were significantly less likely to be incarcerated at the time of the interview (29% vs. 54% of the comparison group), significantly less likely to have been arrested during parole (50% vs. 75%), and significantly less likely to have used drugs (51% vs. 77%) or alcohol (50% vs. 68%) during parole. In addition, Forever Free women were significantly more likely to be employed at the time of the interview (65% vs. 45% of the comparison group). The paper will also address background, psychological, and motivational factors related to outcomes.

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Updated 05/20/2006