This May, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) released an evaluation of released offenders who had completed rehabilitation programs, many of which were expanded in the 2007 budget package. This package allocated $241 million to increasing the capacity of treatment slots and beds in lieu of spending $2 billion to build and operate the 17,332 new prison beds that the Legislative Budget Board projected in January 2007 that the state would need by 2012.
These evaluations are routinely performed to examine the extent to which rehabilitation programs reduce offender re-incarceration and parole revocations. And, for offenders released in 2007, the report found that recidivism rates were significantly lower for those who participated in the programs.
Included among the studied programs were the faith-based InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI), the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment (SAFP) Program and the Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI), as well as other programs aimed at the successful reintegration of offenders. And with the exception of the Pre-Release Substance Abuse Program (PRSAP), one of the smaller programs, all of these programs evaluated reduced the three-year recidivism for program completers. Significantly, the SAFP Program reduced recidivism by almost 14%.
The In-Prison Therapeutic Community (IPTC) reduced recidivism for program completers two and three years after release. Additionally, the Sex Offender Education Program (SOEP) and The Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) reduced recidivism for program completers two and three years after release.
The expanded capacity of these programs has also reduced costs since many inmates approved for parole cannot be released until they go through one of these six-month programs. As Texas House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden argued, “these new statistics show these programs are cost effective and are working”. Agreeing with Chairman Madden, Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire added, “To cut these programs would be an invitation to build more prisons.”