Because of budget cuts, the state will curtail its substance abuse programs for ex-convicts living in New York City and its suburbs by month's end, despite research indicating that such programs help reduce recidivism, reports the New York Times. The elimination of about $8.6 million in contracts between the Department of Correctional Services, the Division of Parole and nonprofit groups that provide the drug counseling is a tiny drop in the $1.1 billion that Gov. David A. Paterson has cut from the state's annual spending since March. About 2,700 parolees participated in the programs over the last year, and many who work on smoothing prisoner re-entry worry that cutting the programs could land hundreds of them back behind bars.
“It is a panicky response,” said Harry K. Wexler, whose research for the National Development and Research Institutes, a New York-based nonprofit, suggests that community drug treatment programs cut re-arrest and re-incarceration rates in half over five years. “They are cutting their nose off to spite their face.” The Department of Corrections did not renew a $577,000 annual contract that ended last month with Stay'n Out, a respected drug-treatment program that has, since 1977, helped New Yorkers make the transition from prison to their communities. At the same time, the Division of Parole is, at the end of November, shutting down its entire drug-treatment portfolio, which included outpatient and residential programs around New York State.