Nine of every 10 convicts in Iowa’s prisons have histories of drug or alcohol problems, but most will be released without receiving treatment, including many high-risk inmates, says a state study reported by the Des Moines Register. The Iowa Department of Management evaluated licensed drug and alcohol abuse programs operated by the Iowa Department of Corrections. It concluded that such programs “had little effect on prison population, operational cost savings, and overall crime reduction.” The corrections department offers 15 licensed programs in eight prisons with the capacity to serve about 2,000 inmates annually at a cost of about $3.1 million. Nearly 60 percent of offenders with substance abuse needs are released without treatment, the study said.
It costs $23,367 annually to keep each of Iowa’s 8,836 offenders behind bars, and preventing one offender from returning to prison from parole or work-release saves about $5,400 in incarceration costs, state officials said. The study found that just over 12 percent of offenders released after successful completion of substance abuse treatment were convicted of new offenses within 12 months. Almost 27 percent returned for either new offenses or for technical violations, such as failing to report to a parole officer.