Up to three-fourths of New York State's 57,000 prison inmates need drug counseling or treatment to have a chance at productive, crime-free lives once they are released, says a study reported by the New York Times. The Correctional Association of New York looked at drug treatment at 23 of the state's nearly 68 facilities. It found that the programs varied wildly in effectiveness and that most departed significantly from best practices of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
New York prisons fail to screen candidates based on the severity of their problems, which means they wastefully enroll large numbers of people in intensive programs they don't need. They also routinely enroll poorly motivated inmates, which limits effectiveness. They fail to coordinate prison treatment programs with those offered in the communities to which the inmates will return. Researchers found model treatment programs in at least four state prisons. The study said the state could improve drug treatment without spending any more than the estimated $19 million it devotes to this problem by deploying the existing staff in better designed programs.