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BOP Fails To Meet Drug Treatment Goals; Lack of Funding Blamed

According to the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) annual report to Congress on substance abuse treatment programs, the BOP will once again fail to provide residential drug treatment services to 100 percent of eligible prisoners.

With the BOP’s population swelling beyond 205,000, the demand for drug treatment by federal prisoners only continues to increase. This is especially so given the potential for prisoners to receive up to one year off their sentence if they successfully complete treatment.

Since 2003, though, the BOP has not received a funding increase dedicated to expanding the availability of residential drug treatment. In fiscal year 2007, this resulted in only 80 percent of eligible prisoners receiving residential treatment. In 2008, this figure jumped to 93 percent, but it is expected that number will decline again to around 80 percent, as the 2008 jump in participation was the result of an “unanticipated early release of a number of treatment-eligible” prisoners in the wake of the United States Sentencing Commission’s decision to apply its “crack cocaine” amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines retroactive.

Today, an average of 7,600 prisoners are waiting for residential treatment. In fiscal year 2008, 17,523 prisoners successfully completed residential treatment, 4,800 of which received a sentence reduction. And while the BOP is authorized to reduce sentences up to one year for those who successfully complete treatment, the average reduction was only 7.8 months in fiscal year 2008.

According to the BOP’s report to Congress, prisoners are receiving less than 12 months because they “are not being admitted to the program with sufficient time left on their sentence to allow for completion of all components of the program and to have 12 months remaining” due to the “growing RDAP waiting list.”

“Without additional funding,” the BOP wrote, “the agency will [be] unable to meet [Congress’s goal] of treating 100 percent of eligible” prisoners.

See: The Federal Bureau of Prisons Annual Report on Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Fiscal Year 2008. A copy of the full report is available on PLN’s website.

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