Economic evaluation of a prerelease substance abuse treatment program for repeat criminal offenders

Michael T. French, Hai Fang, Ralph Fretz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Substance use disorders are common conditions among repeat criminal offenders. Without addressing these underlying substance use behaviors, parolees are significantly more likely to recidivate within 1 year of release. New Jersey is one of the first states to actively pursue substance abuse treatment options for inmates who are in the final stages of their sentences. Given the fiscal realities of taxpayer-supported programs, such initiatives must clearly demonstrate economic benefits for sustainability and growth. This article conducted one of the few comprehensive economic evaluations of prerelease substance abuse treatment to determine whether Community Education Centers' programs in New Jersey generated desirable outcomes, significant economic benefits, and positive net benefits. Relative to a matched comparison group of offenders who did not receive treatment, the intervention group returned an average economic benefit of $4,307 to $6,209 over the 1-year postrelease period. These economic benefits are underscored by the fact that the treatment program is housed in a separate facility, with a lower average per diem from that of the general inmate population. These results provide quantitative economic evidence that prerelease substance abuse treatment programs have the potential to reduce recidivism and save taxpayer dollars without adding to existing prison resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Cost
  • Economic benefits
  • Substance abuse treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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