Caroline County Recovery Community Program:
A cost-benefit analysis and examination of effectiveness
The International Narcotics Control Board has described the United States as “the biggest illicit drug market in the world.” According to Allen Beck, statistician for the Justice Department, currently drug offenders make up almost 60 percent of all inmates, in comparison to 25 percent in 1980. Furthermore, years of research has confirmed the strong correlation between drugs and crime, hence the increasing jail and prison population, as well as climbing recidivism rates.
A solution that costs less than building more jails and prisons and is more effective at reducing recidivism is needed: alternatives to incarceration. Successful alternative programs have been adopted, costing less and yielding better results. In fact, research has exposed recidivism rates being cut by 25 percent when implementing such programs (Vratil and Whiremire, 2008). Just as important as saving money on incarceration rates, these offenders then join society as productive citizens, contribute to society by paying taxes, and do not claim another crime victim.
Not only do these alternatives have better outcomes as it relates to lower recidivism rates and absence from substance use, but they also save thousands, if not millions, of taxpayer dollars. It is for these reasons that many communities have began partnering with programs that provide such alternatives to incarceration and recovery options for qualifying offenders.
As a response to this research and evidence, the McShin Foundation located in Richmond Virginia, partnered with the Caroline County Virginia Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and Commonwealth Attorney Tony Spencer to begin providing an alternative to incarceration for qualifying addicts.
Reducing recidivism in returning offenders with alcohol and drug related offenses:
Contracts for the delivery of authentic peer based recovery support services
In collaboration with Sheriff C. T. Woody, Deputies, and other jail personnel, the Kingdom Life Ministries (KLM) program operates in the City of Richmond Jail. Aimed at serving individuals who suffer from alcoholism and other drug addictions, the KLM program offers peer-to-peer recovery support services; meaning people who are successful in their recovery deliver the recovery message. On any given day, rehabilitation and recovery services are provided to up to 120 men in what used to be the worst tier of the Richmond City Jail. A large portion of these men battle substance abuse disorders and have exhibited habitual and violent criminal behavior over an extended period of time.
Using a mixed methods approach, I studied the KLM program for almost 4-years in order to examine the effectiveness of KLM, during two stages — while the men were incarcerated and upon release. Beginning in February 2008, with the initial implementation of the KLM program, the examination spanned three and a half years, concluding in September 2011. The qualitative and quantitative findings of this study revealed the effectiveness of the KLM program, with an 18% percent lower recidivism rate and a cost savings of almost $8 million over the stud period. Secondary data examining other programs in and outside of Virginia was also reviewed in order to develop best practices recommendations for substance abuse treatment organizations. Last, it was also discovered that private organizations provide more efficient services than public programs, and do so in a more cost-effective manner.