Texas convicts who could benefit the most from drug treatment programs are the least likely to use such services, the Houston Chronicle reports. That population faces a greater risk of relapse and is more likely to be reincarcerated, researchers found. The findings are part of a forthcoming Urban Institute report based on interviews with 352 former prison and jail inmates. The surveys, taken immediately before the inmates were set free and again within the year after their releases, were conducted through 2005 and early 2006. Inmates locked up in state jails – facilities for those serving sentences of two years or less for nonviolent offenses – have less access to drug treatment and are less likely to take part in educational classes, job training, and other self-improvement programs than those serving longer sentences at state prisons that typically house violent criminals.
“People who did participate in those programs did end up faring better,” said Nancy La Vigne of the Urban Institute. “They were less likely to return to prison and typically more likely to find stable employment.” Said former Harris County prosecutor Carol Vance: “It’s cheaper, and it’s better law enforcement and better crime prevention to have good programs.” Drug treatment is especially important for state jail confinees, who typically are not subject to probation or parole when they are released, correctional officials say. Without treatment, “they’re just going to go right back out there into society and pick up where they left off,” said Mark Hicks, assistant warden of the Kegans State Jail, which houses more than 600 male inmates in Houston.