Criminal Justice Populations Projects

Project BRITE: Behavioral Reinforcement
to Increase Treatment Engagement

William Burdon, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Michael L. Prendergast, Ph.D. (,

Project BRITE will (1) test the impact of a behavioral reinforcement intervention on inmate engagement in prison-based substance abuse treatment (thereby improving both psychosocial functioning over the course of treatment and post-release outcomes [e.g., decreased drug use and reincarceration]), and (2) assess the process by which this evidence-based innovation is implemented and sustained within prison-based treatment programs, within the context of Diffusion of Innovations theory. This theory explains the process by which innovations are communicated to and adopted by individuals within a social system or organization over a period of time. Male and female inmates (N = 260) receiving referrals to intensive outpatient treatment will be randomly assigned to one of two types of programs (i.e., conditions): behavioral reinforcement (BR) or standard treatment (ST). Inmates assigned to the BR programs will receive positive behavioral reinforcement contingent upon their attendance and participation in regularly scheduled program activities. Reinforcement will be in the form of Motivational Incentive (MI) points that can be redeemed for commissary items and/or privileges or donated to a “community charity” (a measure of altruism). Subjects will be interviewed at baseline and upon discharge from the programs. Records-based data will be collected on aftercare participation, drug use, and reincarceration 9 months following release from prison. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Corrections and CiviGenics, Inc.

Project BRITE was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant 1 R01 DA017856-01 (July 2005 through June 2009).

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Evaluation of the Mental Health
Services Continuum Program

David Farabee, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Joy Yang, M.P.P., Project Director

To enhance the California Department of Corrections’ ability to identify and treat mentally ill parolees, the Mental Health Services Continuum Program (MHSCP) was developed by the Parole and Community Services Division (P&CSD) in July of 2000. The purpose of the MHSCP is to enhance the quality and timeliness of mental health services provided to mentally ill parolees after release, with the overarching goal of reducing recidivism and improving public safety. The current project is a 4-year evaluation of the MHSCP initiative for the period of July 1, 2002, through June 30, 2006. The purpose of the evaluation is to answer the following: (1) How well were the in-prison and community-based components planned, developed, and implemented? (2) What problems were encountered and how were they addressed? and (3) What impact does the MHSCP program have on recidivism of mentally ill parolees?

Evaluation of the Mental Health Services Continuum Program was funded by the State of California, Department of Corrections, Contract P02.0016 (July 2002 through June 2008).

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Evaluation of Female Offender Treatment
and Employment Program (FOTEP)

Christine E. Grella, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

The goal of the FOTEP project is to enable the successful reintegration of women parolees into the community, particularly in regard to reducing criminal behavior, substance use, and welfare dependence, and to strengthen family relationships and employment skills. The FOTEP evaluation study consisted of a quasi-experimental study with a sample of FOTEP participants (n = 343) and a Comparison group of eligible, but non-participating, female parolees (n = 157). All participants initially participated in in-prison substance abuse treatment; about two thirds of the sample then transferred to community-based treatment in FOTEP, while the others were paroled to the community and referred to treatment as usual. A 12-month follow-up interview was conducted with about 90% of the study sample from 2001-2003 and outcomes were assessed regarding their drug use, criminal behavior, employment, parental status, and psychosocial functioning. Recidivism (i.e., return-to-prison) has also been analyzed for up to 48 months following parole using administrative data. Analyses have shown that longer time in FOTEP treatment (at least 150 days) reduces the likelihood of a return to prison by about half, and that individuals who complete FOTEP treatment are significantly less likely to return to prison as compared with individuals in the Comparison group. Ongoing analyses are using administrative data and data collected from participants to evaluate the outcomes of FOTEP participation.

Evaluation of Female Offender Treatment and Employment Program (FOTEP) was funded by the State of California, Department of Corrections, Office of Substance Abuse Programs, Contract C03.052 (July 2003 through June 2009).

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Gender-Responsive Treatment
for Women in Prison

Nena Messina, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Christine E. Grella, Ph.D., Co-Investigator
Jerry Cartier, M.A., Project Director

UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP) is conducting a 2-year pilot study to test the efficacy of a drug abuse treatment program designed for drug-dependent women in prison based on an established theoretical model of women’s development. Specifically, the study will determine the relative effectiveness of a women-focused (WF) treatment program based on relational theory (Miller, 1976; Covington, 1999; 2003) compared to a standard prison therapeutic community (TC). The WF curriculum has been fully developed (Covington, 1999; 2003); however, this study will be the first empirical test of the curriculum, which could result in its further refinement for use in prison programs. The study will use an experimental design with random assignment of 100 women inmates to the two treatment conditions (WF vs. TC). The study has the following specific aims:

  • To evaluate the impact of a theoretically based gender-responsive program on program performance, aftercare participation, substance abuse, psychological well-being, and recidivism for women offenders, compared to the impact of a standard prison TC program.
  • To qualitatively assess women's perceptions of their treatment experiences in the gender-responsive and standard TC treatment programs to refine and improve the gender-responsive model of treatment.

Gender-Responsive Treatment for Women in Prison was funded by the National Institute on Mental Health, Grant 1 R21 DA018699 (August 2005 through June 2007).

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Gender-Responsive Treatment
for Women Offenders

Michael Prendergast, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Nena Messina, Ph.D., & Elizabeth Hall, Ph.D.,

This 5-year study is designed to determine whether drug abuse treatment programs designed specifically for women offenders result in better outcomes than do the standard treatment programs now provided for them. Consistent findings regarding the greater severity of women’s drug abuse, past trauma, and psychological disorders have led many researchers to advocate the use of gender-responsive treatment for women as a more appropriate and effective way to facilitate their recovery. As policymakers and treatment providers consider expanding treatment options for women offenders, it is critically important to determine whether women-only (WO) treatment programs do produce better outcomes than standard mixed-gender (MG) programs. The study involves the cooperation of community-based drug abuse treatment agencies providing Drug Court, Substance Abuse Crime and Prevention Act (SACPA), perinatal, and other outpatient treatment within Los Angeles County. The study uses a quasi-experimental design with study intake into two treatment conditions (MG vs. WO) and has the following specific aims:

  • To evaluate the impact of WO programs on drug use, criminal activity, and social functioning (e.g., employment, education, parenting behavior) for women offenders, compared to the impact of MG programs.
  • To qualitatively assess women’s perceptions of their treatment experiences in the WO and MG treatment programs.

Gender-Responsive Treatment for Women Offenders was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant 1 R01 DA016277 (September 2004 through August 2009).

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Substance Abuse Treatment Facility:
Cohort Evaluation and Focused Studies

Michael Prendergast, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
David Farabee, Ph.D., Co-Investigator
Jerome Cartier, M.A., Project Director

As of this writing, there are three main goals of this continuing evaluation of the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF). The first is to conduct an additional 3-year analysis of official California Department of Corrections (CDC) data to determine whether subsequent cohorts of SATF parolees have declining levels of recidivism during the first 12 months of parole. The second is a qualitative study to improve aftercare attendance by focusing on substance abuse program (SAP) parolees’ (N = 50) transitional issues by conducting pre-release focus groups and a series of post-release telephone interviews. Using the data from this study, UCLA will work collaboratively with the treatment provider (Walden House) to develop a brief pre-release intervention to encourage parolee participation in community treatment. The third study (N = 300) uses the Criminal Justice - Client Evaluation of Self and Treatment (CJ-CEST) and the Criminal Thinking Scale (CTS) to measure change in SAP participants over time during treatment. Data from this study (instrument scores) will be used to predict entrance to post-release community treatment, retention in community treatment, and 12-month recidivism rates. Should outcomes prove significant for certain scales on these instruments, UCLA ISAP will train treatment staff in the administration, scoring, and interpretation of the instruments. A fourth study is under current development and will be described in the next report.

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility: Cohort Evaluation and Focused Studies was funded by the California Department of Corrections; Agreement C06.082 (July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2010).

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The Pacific Coast Research Center

Michael Prendergast, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
David Farabee, Ph.D., & Christine E. Grella, Ph.D.,
Elizabeth Hall, Ph.D., Project Director

The goal of the multisite Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Research Studies (CJ-DATS), funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is to establish a research infrastructure to test the effectiveness of integrated treatment models within criminal justice settings. A key feature of the project is its emphasis on promoting collaboration among researchers, clinicians, and correctional staff/administrators. Toward this end, ISAP created the Pacific Coast Research Center, which has research partners in California, Oregon, and Washington, including departments of corrections and community treatment agencies (Mental Health Systems, Phoenix House, and Walden House in California; New Directions Northwest and DePaul Treatment Center in Oregon; and CiviGenics, Inc., in Washington). The CJ-DATS research system, which consists of nine research centers, a coordinating center, and NIDA, is designed to evaluate interventions in multisite studies that address systems-level issues related to integrating public health and public safety approaches for drug-using offenders. Approved studies include evaluations of (1) a case management model to improve the transition process from prison to community, (2) a model that integrates parole officers into the treatment program, (3) a prison exit survey designed to determine what level of care is needed during parole, (4) specialized models of treatment for adolescent offenders, and (5) instruments intended to measure progress over the course of treatment. (Additional information is available at

The Pacific Coast Research Center of the NIDA CJ-DATS was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant 5 U01 DA16211 (September 2002 through August 2007).

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Evaluation of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000

Darren Urada, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Angela Hawken, Ph.D., Co-Investigator
Elizabeth Evans, M.A., Project Director

In November 2000, 61% of California voters approved Proposition 36, subsequently enacted into law as the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, or SACPA. This legislation mandated a major shift in the state’s criminal justice policy. Under SACPA, nonviolent drug possession offenders may choose to receive drug abuse treatment in the community instead of being sentenced to a term of incarceration or being placed under community supervision without treatment. ISAP is conducting a statewide evaluation of SACPA to examine its implementation, costs and cost-savings, and influence on offender behavior. The evaluation will examine SACPA’s effect on eligible offenders and subpopulations of eligible offenders. The evaluation will communicate findings to state and national audiences and identify implications for criminal justice and treatment policy. (Additional information is available at

Evaluation of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 was funded by the State of California, Contract 00-00124 (June 2001 through December 2006).

Last Updated: 02/01/2007

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2016 ISAP Publications
2015 ISAP Publications