I had the opportunity to share my study with a member of the parole board today. A friend, Jane, who is a rehabilitation counselor, was representing a client who is up for parole. This client does have a compelling story. However, I was not there to advocate on his behalf, but to share the message that treatment does work. I had the opportunity to tell the parole board member about my research and what factors are necessary to have the most effective treatment program. I told him how this is true for anyone – male, female, prison, jail – all offenders being released need a program – and if not, there is a great chance they are going back! My basic messaging was this:
Through this extensive research, including over 1,600 hours in the jail, and weekly meetings with the men who were released from jail, I found that treatment does work. However, to be the most successful, it must be administered while the person is incarcerated and also after they are released. Upon release, housing must be provided to those who have nowhere else to go, along with a rigorously structured program. While justice certainly needs to be paid, 93% of those who are incarcerated will be released to the street and many of them can be rehabilitated to be drug-free productive citizens. However, it is our job, as citizens, lawmakers, and policy makers, to provide services to these individuals, many who are not bad people, they just made bad decisions, in order to provide them with the tools to be successful!