Recidivism is defined as: a repeated or habitual relapse. This can refer to habits, criminal activities or dealings, or the chronic relapse into the use of drugs and/or alcohol. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, recidivism rates are sky high in jails, prisons, and penitentiaries in the United States. Inmates in these “lock-ups” have a very high chance of returning to a life of drugs and crime after their release from jail for a number of reasons. Primarily, the number one reason for high recidivism in jails is the fact that 12 step programs and other drug rehab treatment options simply are not available to the majority of those serving time. The State of Texas, however, is looking to rectify this situation and turn the high recidivism rates in the other direction.
The push for more treatment programs in Texas jails stems from surprising numbers in recent reports on the number of inmates that are released from prison, only to return to crime and drug abuse. 33 percent of the inmates in State jails, who were convicted of a felony offense, are soon convicted of another felony offense after their release – the majority of these second convictions occurring within 6
months of initial release.
With such a high rate of recidivism linked directly to jailed offenders, Texas Legislators admit that the current system in-place is to blame, and new ideas and processes are needed to not only help those convicted, but to also ease the burden on taxpayers – as tax dollars are used to house the repeat offenders.
Of all of the ideas on the table, offering treatment options and inpatient recovery programs is the option being loudly voiced by legislators and taxpayers alike. Coupled with mandatory community service for first time offenders, drug rehab and mandatory drug counseling as conditions of parole could inspire convicted felons to commit to long term sobriety, rather than return to crime, drugs, and alcohol. Additionally, by offering these options to first time felons, those convicted have a fighting chance for full rehabilitation, and don’t simply become “lost in the system.”
Not only will this makeover of current processes benefit those the inmates themselves, but will benefit every citizen of the State of Texas, through higher public safety and lower amounts of wasted tax
dollars that could be spent elsewhere.
As it stands right now, Texas prisoners of State jails are not required to seek treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism, unless specifically cited as part of sentencing. While some convicted felons actually do opt for treatment, and do successfully stop abusing drugs and alcohol, there are very few cases – as shown by the shown by the astronomical recidivism rates.