Program: Substance-abuse testing and treatment
This appropriation funds
programs funded under a U.S. Department of Justice grant (Residential Substance
Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners), which provides a 272-bed, in-prison
“therapeutic community” for low-risk prisoners nearing their release date.
In-house programs are followed by community care. The program is conducted at
Cooper Street Correctional under a contract with Western Michigan University.
The state could contract out for the provision of all substance-abuse programs
with for-profit or non profit firms, such as Wackenhut, Inc., Corrections
Corporation of America, or Cornell Corrections, Inc.
To the DOC’s great credit, drug abuse among prisoners has declined dramatically
in Michigan, from 9 percent to 0.5 percent in roughly a decade. Maintaining a captive audience,
conducting strict surveillance, and limiting prisoners’ contact with the outside
world helps facilitate success.
This decrease in drug use has been accompanied by a huge increase in spending on
substance-abuse programs. Since 1990, spending has increased 1,700 percent,
going from $1,306,700 to $23,869,150. In large measure, this is due to
vigorous expansion of treatment. The number of admissions for outpatient and
residential treatment of offenders in camps or prisons jumped from 579 in 1989
to 5,806 in 2001, and community residential program (halfway houses) admissions
increased from 382 to 1,773 during the same time. The increases were
particularly dramatic for offenders on probation and parole: from 67 to 8,656
for parolees and from 0 to 4,441 for probationers. For
2001, the treatment was roughly split between outpatient (5,004 individuals) and
education (5,121), with a smaller number (762) in residential programs.
Using community groups to provide substance-abuse counseling and services could
save the state millions — and promote a stronger civil society. Privately run
prisons and jails, for example, show promise of getting better results at a
lower cost. The Dallas County (Texas) Judicial Treatment Center is a privately
managed operation, owned by Cornell Corrections, Inc. This 300-bed residential,
community-based treatment program has won favorable notice from the Council of
State Governments, which commended the program for its “significantly lower
arrest rates” for offenders who completed the program. The 11 percent recividism
rate (after one year) was half the rate of non-participants, and won the
facility a “best practice” award from the American Correctional Association. In Florida, the state’s Corrections
Commission observed that private prisons “provided additional educational,
vocational, substance abuse and other programs for inmates, whereas
state-operated facilities have not kept pace with providing programs.” Inmates
in Minnesota gave higher marks to substance-abuse programs in privately run
prisons than to those in government-run prisons. Savings of 7 to 10 percent are
not uncommon when such programs are outsourced to for-profit groups. When
estimating the savings for this section of the budget, the Mackinac Center for
Public Policy will use 7 percent. Savings: $1,405,285.