The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) was one of four states awarded a Bureau of Justice Assistance grant in 1987 to provide substance abuse treatment in correctional institutions. The total funds available for that project were $525,000. Experiencing a rapid increase in the number of drug admissions to prison and community supervision, the department did not have a system of substance abuse programming implemented to handle, effectively, over 33,000 drug admissions to community supervision. This figure did not include the large number of inmates and offenders whose primary offense was other than drugs, but who were chronic and severe substance abusers whose criminal activity supported their drug addiction. The department has worked in a consistent and comprehensive manner to develop the most widely recognized statewide correctional response to combating substance abuse and the corresponding anti-social and criminal behavior associated with it. The combined department programming is cost effective, strategically planned, and closely monitored.
The front-line intervention is the program services abuse effort. It is estimated that 70 percent of the offenders on community supervision in Florida are substance abusers. Many have an underlying mental health problem, and or a significant educational, vocational, and employment deficiency. Affordable treatment programs for offenders that address these problems are scarce and or not available in local communities. In response to this problem, the Florida Department of Corrections has developed several treatment programs for offenders. All programs clearly articulate to each offender that they are accountable and responsible for their crime and they must make a commitment to end their addiction and end their criminality.
These programs consist of the largest state probation and parole drug testing program in the country and a myriad of outpatient and residential programs. This effort was designed to screen offenders on community supervision for substance abuse and specialized needs, to include screening for mental health services, educational, and employment assistance. A comprehensive referral system places them in the appropriate treatment modality, if treatment is indicated. This provides the court and the offender punishment oriented alternatives to incarceration that afford offenders an opportunity to overcome their substance abuse addiction or other problems, and prevent further penetration into the criminal justice system. The intent of this effort by the department is to remove the barriers to treatment programs for offenders making treatment available, accessible, and affordable to all offenders. The FDC has contracted with local community treatment agencies to provide services at the local probation offices or conveniently in the community.
The judiciary, state attorney, public defender, local law enforcement, and county government are partners with the department in providing a comprehensive continuum of community-based sanctions and programs. Many of the judicial circuits have developed efficient and effective "drug courts" that concentrate resources from the criminal justice system and treatment providers in a united effort to successfully deal with the criminal justice population. These efforts have helped contribute to a reduction in prison admissions for non-violent drug offenders.
These treatment programs are based on the "continuum of care" concept, where offenders can move from least restrictive programs to gradually more structured programs if clinically indicated. The following is a brief description of the various services provided as part of each treatment program.