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Win-win for Addicts in Prison

It’s called a Public Safety Compact or PSC. It’s a program that allows prisoners in Maryland to agree to drug treatment and reduce their sentence.

This new program, described in the Baltimore Sun, represents some forward thinking and has the potential to reduce costs to the state while actually helping inmates with the problems that sent them to prison in the first place.

A graduation ceremony mentioned in the article was held in a Baltimore church and had 62 participants who had completed the program. The reported describes a scene with tears, caps and gowns, and most significantly – sobriety. This is a side of the war on drugs we don’t see enough of: the one-on-one individual successes that can be had when treatment is combined with intervention. In these cases, the intervention came by way of arrest and a judge.

The program consists of three phases, the first, a twelve month in-prison program of cognitive behavioral services coupled with education is the longest. The second comes as a plan to transition into the community when the prison is about to be released and connects the prisoner with their future parole officer and community case manager. The final phase happens in the community and focuses on employment and restoring family connections. The ex-con is monitored by the program and the Division of Parole and Probation.

When it works, we save money by releasing a prisoner early and by restoring a productive citizen to the community. If it doesn’t, there is the possibility of a catastrophic failure by way of relapse or a return to criminal behavior.

All in all, programs like this represent an emerging trend that pairs scientifically validated techniques with a critical need to produce reduced costs for states and improved outcomes for those incarcerated on drug crimes – the very definition of a “win-win.”

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