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Female Offender Re-entry Skills Training: An Intermediate Evaluation of Offender Recidivism and Program Cost

By Richard M. Swanson and Maryann Waugh

ABSTRACT:   In 2007, Colorado legislation enabled the development of enhanced mental health programs in the state. This article provides stakeholders, policy makers, and other interested persons with an intermediate evaluation of the Female Offender Re-Entry Skills Training (FOREST) program progress and efficacy since its start in July of 2008. This article contains background information describing the program's population and interim measures of program goals and objectives related to recidivism, treatment compliance, and vocational progress. A cost-savings analysis also compares program cost to the cost of incarceration. Finally, the article provides indices of change on symptom-related clinical and research measures. Background highlights include: National findings report particularly high costs associated with the incarceration of mentally ill and substance abusing offenders; rates of recidivism are very high for mentally ill and substance abusing offenders; outcomes are even worse for offenders with co-morbid diagnoses of mental illness and substance abuse disorders; and rates of mental illness/co-morbidity are highest in female offender populations. Intermediate evaluation highlights include: The FOREST program was designed using evidence-based practices to target the dually diagnosed female offender population in an effort to reduce the costs and improve the efficacy of treatment interventions for this population; intermediate outcomes show that the program is meeting the established goals and objectives associated with reducing recidivism and providing a more cost-effective alternative to facility-based treatment; a recidivism analysis of the first two years of program operation shows a 63% reduction in recidivism for program graduates in contrast to a matched comparison sample; and a conservative cost-per-day analysis estimates a cost savings of $621,815.04 associated with 59 participants across 29 months of program operation.

Posted Thu, Aug 4 2011 4:19 PM by Tracey Vessels


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