John Keel, CPA
Texas State Auditor
An Audit Report on Selected Rehabilitation Programs at the Department of Criminal Justice
Report Number 07-026
Three of five programs auditors evaluated at the Department of Criminal Justice (Department) reduced recidivism (re-arrest and re-incarceration) rates. A fourth program reduced re-arrest rates but had higher re-incarceration rates; while the fifth program did not reduce either re-arrest or re-incarceration rates.
Recidivism rates of offenders completing the Sex Offender Treatment Program, the Sex Offender Education Program, and the Pre-Release Therapeutic Community program were lower than the recidivism rates of offenders who were eligible for these programs but did not participate. For example, offenders who completed the Sex Offender Treatment Program had re-incarceration rates that were 61.6 percent lower than sex offenders who were eligible for but did not participate in this program. Also, 80 percent of offenders who completed this program and were later re-incarcerated were re-incarcerated for technical violations of their parole, not for arrests on new charges.
The Pre-Release Substance Abuse Program did not reduce re-arrest or re-incarceration rates for participants. While the faith-based InnerChange Freedom Initiative program reduced re-arrest rates, it showed higher re-incarceration rates among participants. There are possible reasons for these results, including the serious nature of the offenses of the participants in the Pre-Release Substance Abuse Program and the small number of offenders who complete the InnerChange Freedom Initiative program.
The Department maintains the data necessary to calculate recidivism rates for individual programs, but this data resides in multiple places (such as the Department's mainframe and standalone computers at the program level) and is difficult to obtain. In addition, the data is not always complete and may not be entirely accurate (see Chapter 1-A for more information on recidivism rates).
The process used by the Department and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (Parole Board) for assessing and placing offenders in programs is not efficient and may result in some offenders remaining in prison longer than they should, which could contribute to prison overcrowding. The Parole Board, as part of its voting process, recommends which program an offender should complete before release. However, its recommendations were not implemented in 41.3 percent of the cases auditors reviewed. This is because the Department's clinicians assess offenders for placement in a program after the Parole Board makes its recommendation. The Department makes the final decision regarding which program an offender is required to complete before release. Often, the clinicians' and the Parole Board's recommendations differ. As a result, offenders who complete programs early sometimes remain in prison until their Parole Board-approved earliest possible release date; other offenders must remain incarcerated past their earliest possible release date while they complete a program. Both of these situations could contribute to overcrowding at prisons. Between September 2005 and February 2007, there were 2,176 offenders with program completion dates available in the Department's automated system. Of these, 549 (25.2 percent) had not been released on parole as of February 2007.
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