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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Federal Prison Inmates: Rehabilitative Needs and Program Participation

Nathan James
Analyst in Crime Policy

The stated mission of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is “to protect society by confining offenders in the controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure, and that provide work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens.” In support of this mission, BOP offers a variety of rehabilitative programs, including work opportunities through the Federal Prison Industries (FPI), occupational education programs, literacy/GED courses, and a variety of drug abuse treatment programs.

CRS used data from the 1997 and 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities to analyze (1) whether there has been an increase in the proportion of federal inmates in need of rehabilitative programming, (2) if inmates with a need for rehabilitative programming were more likely than other inmates to participate in a program to address their need, and (3) whether there was an increase between 1997 and 2004 in the probability that inmates with a reported need participated in rehabilitative programming.

Some of the key findings from the CRS analysis include the following: (1) data from the 1997 and 2004 surveys show that it was likely that there was increased need for drug abuse treatment programs, but the need for literacy/GED and occupational education programs along with FPI work assignments remained flat; (2) with the exception of inmates who were unemployed before being arrested, inmates who had a rehabilitative need were significantly more likely than other inmates to participate in a rehabilitative program to address their need; (3) there was not a significant difference in the likelihood that inmates in 1997 and 2004 with rehabilitative needs participated in programming; and (4) the probability that a typical inmate with a rehabilitative need participated in a program to address that need was, in most cases, less than 1 in 2, and the probability that the highest-participating inmates participated in rehabilitative programs was 3 in 5 or lower.

Potential issues relevant to this analysis include the amount of resources available to BOP to carry out its mission to provide rehabilitative programming to federal inmates and the structure of incentives for inmates to participate in rehabilitative programs.

Date of Report: December 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: R41525
Price: $29.95

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