Hard numbers show the dangers and complexities
The consequences of overcrowding, driven by factors such as new crimes, new arrests and extended sentences set by the Legislature (issues that are beyond the control of the Department of Correction) will eventually affect all Idahoans. Competition for declining tax revenues makes policy decisions regarding prisons a series of “hard choices.”
“Hard Choices” analyzes the prison population of the Idaho Department of Correction, examining a number of important trends and factors contributing to the long-term and continued growth of the prison population. Crime trends, the types of offenders, offender treatment programs, parole data, recidivism data and ways to control growth are discussed.
The Idaho Department of Correction has experienced a strong growth in inmate numbers and rates of incarceration (per 100,000 persons) during the past 31 years (Chart 1). In 1973 when the Territorial Prison was closed and the move was made to the new prison site, there were 416 inmates incarcerated in the Idaho Department of Correction. The rate has increased from 54.94/100,000 (416 inmates) in 1973 to approximately 443/100,000 (6,285) in September 2004.
Between fiscal years 1996 and 2003, the Idaho prison population increased by 60 percent from 3,639 to 5,825, and the per capita rate of imprisonment in Idaho rose from 319 to 430 per 100,000 residents in the state between 1996 and 2000, an increase of 35 percent… In fiscal year 1996, 2233 individuals were admitted to Idaho prisons, and by fiscal year 2003, annual admissions had grown to 3,218, a 44 percent increase. (La Vigne, et al, 2004: 1)
Growth of the incarcerated population has exceeded the growth in the general population and the crime rate. Those under some form of correctional supervision are the result of a many factors in this state. In a time of declining tax revenues and jobs, Idaho is facing a serious set of policy decisions to create safer communities and make decisions that provide a cost-effective correctional response to offenders that present serious risks to community safety.
The United States and Idaho are experiencing one of the longest periods of decline in violent crime rates since the 1960’s (Statistical Analysis Center, Idaho, 2004). The state of Idaho experiences less than one-half of the violent crime rate of the rest of the United States (Statistical Analysis Center, 2004). At the same time, the country is experiencing the highest rate of incarceration in its history. The increase in incarceration rates at the same time the crime rate is either flat or declining is the result of a number of important factors that need to be understood in order to make policy decisions to control overcrowding.
According to Chart 2, after a very clear high point in 1996, the violent crime rate has appeared to level off and remain at approximately 250/100,000 in Idaho (Statistical Analysis Center, 2004). Data from the Idaho UCR (2003) shows the property crime rate according to Chart 3 also hit its most recent peak in 1996 and has declined to 3,000/100,000 population since that time.
There are good reasons for building prisons, but our one solution to everything—-drugs, alcohol abuse, minor offenses—-is prison, and that is simply not cost-effective.”
The national data provides an enlightening picture of what types of offenders are incarcerated. U.S. Department of Justice data provides information to explain who is incarcerated (DOJ, 2002, 2003). Two-thirds of persons in prisons in the United States are the result of tougher sentencing laws, police activities, criminality and the general rate of crime. Eighteen percent are the result of recidivism rates and 16% are the result of probation and parole violations.
Incarceration Rates Nationally and in Idaho
The following charts provide an interesting insight into the national incarceration rates, the Idaho rates and the contributing factors to continued growth. The rate of incarceration in Idaho has mirrored the rates in the United States. This rates continue to parallel each other because of the changes in a number of factors in the era of harsher sentencing throughout the last 30 years. Ultimately, decision-makers must review the factors contributing to the continued growth rate and intervene in the appropriate areas to control and manage the rate.
Idaho Offender Population Forecast
As of September 2004, the Idaho Department of Correction had a net count of 6,285 male and female offenders in custody. The Offender Population Forecast (FY 2005-2008) produced by the Forecast Advisory Committee in 2004 presents a dire set of circumstances for an increasing number of offenders under correctional supervision and tax dollars that must be devoted to building space and providing maintenance for them. As Charts 8 and 9 show, the projected growth in the rate and the numbers of incarcerated offenders from FY 2005—FY 2008 is equal to 1,377 offenders, a number larger than the number of beds at ISCI when it opened in 1973. In the same time the number of offenders under supervision in the community is projected to increase by 1955 offenders (10,839 to 13,540). This number will result in new resources being added to Field and Community Corrections (personnel and facilities).
Controlling Growth in Corrections:
Prison growth and the increase in the rate of incarceration and numbers of offenders under correctional supervision is the result of a complex set of factors. No one factor explains all of the growth (Chart 5). All make a significant contribution to an ever-increasing (or falling) rate of people serving sentences in the state of Idaho. This analysis is enlightening because it also provides strong evidence as to what policy decisions can be made and what programs can be developed to alter the increase or decrease of inmates in Idaho Department of Correction. In order to reach a point of equilibrium where the state is not forced to devote additional monies to new facilities and ever increasing inmate numbers, a holistic view must be taken to influence, change and modify the factors contributing to growth. These decisions are within the legal purview of the Idaho Legislature, the Governor, the Idaho Board of Pardons and Parole, the Idaho judiciary, and the Department of Correction. Moreover, a very important factor that impacts the size of the prison population is the absolute capacity of the prison.
Offender Treatment at
Mission and Vision of the Idaho Department of Correction
The mission of the department is protection of the community. In doing this, the department is charged to manage offenders, provide opportunities for them to change and return offenders to the community (Idaho Department of Correction, 2004).
Offender Programs Intervention Programs
The goal of this part of the report is to present an analysis of treatment intervention programs in Idaho to determine if the programs are having the purported effect on reducing re-incarceration numbers of inmates leaving the Idaho Department of Correction.
•Offender behavior must be analyzed scientifically
Level of Service Inventory (LSI) Assesses Risk
•Review research and “best practices”
• Develop integrated reentry strategies for offenders
Monitor Success Rates and Modify Programs Based on Performance
• Ongoing research efforts to determine program effectiveness
Risk, Crime and Inmates
Offender risk is a function of assessing the chance of an offender re-offending and the potential harm to the victim/community. The research demonstrates that the high-risk offender needs to be identified, treated and provided a level of supervision to insure community safety.
•Assess offender risk
•LSI-R Assessment (14,301 inmates to 6/14/04)
Offenders Assessed and Risk Levels (14,301 with LSI-R)
Offender Needs Identified by Assessments but Not Addressed
• 31% of inmate population identified as having severe mental health problem
• 67% of inmate population has significant substance abuse problem
• 975 offenders in prison within 2 years of release need a Therapeutic Community before reentry
• 3,080 (54%) inmates without high school or GED education
A large percentage of inmates identified in the assessment/diagnostic process as needing treatment do not receive it because of limited resources at IDOC.
Therapeutic Community (TC)
Recent research completed on Idaho’s TC program ranked it second in the nation among therapeutic communities surveyed (University of Cincinnati, 2003). TC targets offenders with chronic criminal and substance abuse histories.
New Directions Substance Abuse Program—NICI
North Idaho Correction Institution at Cottonwood implemented the New Directions intensive substance abuse treatment program in 2002 to target high-risk offenders. Approximately 600 offenders have completed the program and 98% of those offenders have been placed on probation. Preliminary analysis indicates a positive impact on rates of recidivism. The historic benchmark for probation revocations for NICI rider completers (1996-2003) is 32%. IDOC preliminary data indicates that only 12.9% have been revoked at this time.
The women’s inmate population is one of the fastest growing populations in the Idaho Department of Correction. There are few programs available for women incarcerated in Idaho compared to male inmates. In the Huskey Report (2004: 64), the researchers note that the following programs are not offered at Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center:
1. Mental Health Treatment
2. Family Reunification and Relationship Program
3. Parenting with Dignity
4. Brain Building Basics Parenting Skills
5. Building Healthy Relationships
6. Anger Management Control Training.
The Huskey Report (2004: 68) further states, “at Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center, only 28% of the total 279 women confined are involved in treatment on a daily basis.” The report lays out a series of steps that should be taken in assessing female inmates and providing them with treatment interventions based on “best practices research.” IDOC has initiated many of the changes suggested in the report.
Treatment Outcomes Study
The Idaho Department of Correction has contracted with Drs. Jensen and Reed from the University of Idaho (forthcoming) to conduct a longitudinal study of recidivism of inmates leaving the Idaho Department of Correction. The study will be conducted over the next three years to determine recidivism of inmates relative to program participation. The study will analyze which “grouping” of core programs has had the greatest impact on lowering recidivism. Not every program will be evaluated. The researchers are focusing on the effectiveness of programs at individual locations to determine if there are differences in outcome based on multiple programs and location offered. The research staff is finalizing the programs to be studied, but they will include at a minimum core programs such as CSC, TC, Correctional Industries, and GED classes.
Cognitive Self-Change (CSC)
Based on an evaluation in 2003, Cognitive Self-Change was modified to create a more effective skill-based program. This program was designed to create a realization in the inmates that change could be made if thinking patterns could be changed. The program teaches inmates about the connection between thought and patterns of action. CSC is a method of teaching inmates to change patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that lead to anti-social and criminal behavior. The training takes approximately 150 hours to complete. Currently there are 436 offenders enrolled statewide.
The accredited Robert Janss School has nine prison campuses that teach both academic and vocational curricula. Research shows that inmates have significant issues with school preparation and maintaining stable employment. The programs offered through the Janss School enhance both academic and vocational preparation for offenders entering the free world and the work force. Both programs employ the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) to determine academic ability regardless of grade completed in school.
The academic program includes:
The vocational program has three phases:
A total of 686 offenders are currently enrolled in prison educational programs. An additional 40 offenders are enrolled in Phase 1—Work force Readiness in the Vocational Program. A total of 175 offenders are enrolled in Phase 2—Work force Skills in the Vocational Program (IDOC, 2004). The education program at Idaho Department of Correction is one of the first programs developed and has grown to include a number of different components and deal with an array of inmate difficulties entering the correctional system.
Huskey Report on Overcrowding
The Huskey and Associates report (2004) adds further credible analysis to the problems of overcrowding and causes in the Idaho Department of Correction. The report (2004: 5) concludes that the crisis is the result of seven factors.
Who Is In Prison?
The prison population is growing both nationally and in Idaho. At the national level 66% of inmates in prison are on their first incarceration, 16% are currently in prison for parole or probation revocations (a majority for technical violations), and 18% are currently in prison for recidivism (committing a new crime after release from prison).
Less serious offenders should be treated in the community or in much less secure facilities that are more cost effective.
Treatment, whether in the community or in a prison, must be designed around “best practices research” and must be monitored by the IDOC research and third party research to determine effectiveness. (Outcome measures generally require three years of program data for analysis.) Regular reports should be made to both the Governor’s Office and the Legislature.
Efforts should be made to expand treatment programs and interventions with offenders based on “best practices research.”
Reentry and aftercare must be funded and available to offenders leaving prison. That aftercare must focus on the offender successfully residing in the community as a non-criminal.
Programs should be developed to intervene to correct the behavior of probationers and parolees in the community, rather than return inmates to prison who are technical violators of probation and parole conditions.
Commission of Pardons and Parole Trends
There have been significant changes in the parole patterns and caseload since 1996. The data included in the following charts provides the projections developed (2005-2008) in the “Flow Model Offender Forecast” (2004). The Reinstated Chart and the Total New Parole Admissions charts indicate that over a thousand offenders per year will be added to the caseloads of Probation and Parole Officers from 2001 through 2008. This continued increase would increase state costs to fund new positions and operations monies for Probation and Parole Officers throughout the state. The following charts indicate the magnitude of the changes predicted.
Analysis of Random Sample
In order to analyze probation and parole violations in Idaho, a random sample of 120 males who had their probation or parole revoked in the last year was selected. There were a total of 598 male probation revocations and 378 male parole revocations last year. Due to the fact that inmate files remain at the offenders’ institutions, only 36 of these 120 were available at the medium and minimum-security institution (20 and 16 respectively). The sample contained 20 probation revocations and 16 parole revocations. While this is a rather a small N (sample size), it is still random and therefore provides a limited representative view of revocations in the state. (Optimally, this should be expanded in the future to monitor this.) We have chosen the most important variables to discuss from this sample.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Substance abuse problems (drugs and alcohol) were consistent among the members of the revocation sample. Eighty-nine percent had alcohol problems reported in their file and 94% had drug issues.
Different treatment modalities were used on the members of the sample. The following data refers to those offenders who did receive treatment services. Forty-seven percent received drug/alcohol treatment, 31% received Living Skills treatment and 28% received other treatment like education. These treatments refer primarily to those incarcerated inmates who were paroled.
Implications of Treatment
The implications of the research data both on the best practices and the rates of recidivism in the limited probation and parole sample are clear. As seen in Chart 5, approximately 18% of the offenders recidivate and approximately 16% of the new offenders are for probation and parole violations. This is a combined total of 34% that can possibly be impacted by more intensive treatment programs in prison and follow-up in the community. This does provide data to impact a third of the recidivists by intensified treatment intervention. This does entail specific costs to the state for new programs.
The information in this report presents a clear idea of the daunting task facing the Idaho Department of Correction and policy makers in the state. The data indicate that the growth in the correctional populations has been relentless over the past thirty years. The growth is the result, based on both national and state data, of a number of factors. The rate of the growth is influenced by sentencing laws, the capacity of correctional facilities, the activities of the police, new crime, the crime rate, probation and parole violators, and recidivism. This report reviewed the growth rate and the response of the Idaho Department of Correction to developing treatment programs based on “best practices” research.
As Austin and Fabelo (2004:12) note, “Longer stays in prison make sense as a policy to increase punishment and incapacitation for violent and repeat offenders. However, for the great majority of prisoners—-namely, persons convicted of property and drug crimes—-increasing length of stays in prison beyond certain levels significantly increases costs and does not necessarily produce more public safety.”
Both national and state research is very clear on the impact of treatment on rates of recidivism, especially for offenders who have substance abuse problems. It is possible to impact rates of return to prison if effective treatment is funded and delivered to offenders. It is also clearly the most cost effective based on policy research that weighed the cost-benefits of traditional incarceration, mandatory sentences, or treatment of drug offenders. In more than 95% of the instances in the policy model, treatment was clearly more cost effective than incarceration alone (Caukins, et al, RAND Study, 1997).
Hard Choices: Policy Decisions to
The choices facing policy-makers throughout the United States are particularly difficult at this time. Reduced tax revenues and increased demands on state and federal budgets make it difficult to prioritize spending. Agitating the shortfalls in tax revenues are prison populations that continue to grow in a time of a long-term declining crime rate. Put in simple terms, prison overcrowding is the result of a number of policies that promised to be “tough on crime,” not simply the increasing crime rate or increasing population of the state. We incarcerate more people per capita than other nations for longer times and often for lesser crimes. The fact is that the United States is the toughest nation on crime in the western world. But the same policy-makers and professionals in criminal justice that argued that we did not hold people accountable for wrong-doing are now hard pressed to explain an incarceration rate that continues to grow in times of declining rates of crime. The fact of the matter is that a number of factors contribute to the increase in numbers of people in prisons and the tax dollars to support them. The crime rate, growth of the population, and recidivism are but part of the increase in rates of incarceration. An exhausting amount of data analysis over the past twenty years has indicated that the crime rate and recidivism contributes rather a small part to this growth. In order to limit that growth and conserve tax dollars involves a series of political decisions to be sure that the right persons are incarcerated and prisons are using programs that can be objectively evaluated as successful.
The factors that contribute to the growth in prison bed space are:
Reduction in the Use of Good Time
General Population Growth
Probation and Parole Technical Violations
Probation and Parole Violations for New Crime; and
Pardons and Parole Commission Policy.
In order to control the growth of tax revenues devoted to increasing prison bed space, policy-makers must address the issues contributing to growth.
There should be a limit established by policy makers on the number of prison beds and who has priority for
|Features: Badly Battered • Hard Choices • New Asylums • Diminishing Returns|
This report is the result of the efforts of a number of people and was completed under a contract between the Idaho Department of Correction and the Department of Criminal Justice at Boise State University.
Andrews, D. A., and Bonta, J. (1995). LSI-R: The Level of Service Inventory-Revised. Toronto, ON: Multi-Health Systems.
Hall, Allison and Robert L. Marsh. (1981). Idaho Department of Correction Master Plan. Boise, Idaho.