Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Peter K. Cutler
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182

For immediate release:

June 21, 2011


DOCCS Program Services Department to Provide Overview of Collaborative DOCCS/OASAS Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Programs in State Correctional Facilities

ALBANY – The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s Program Services Department will join its counterparts in the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services for a joint presentation on alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs in state correctional facilities in Albany on June 22nd during a conference hosted by the NYS HIV Prevention Planning Group. DOCCS will be represented by Rachel A. Young, Director of Substance Abuse Treatment Services.

“This is an excellent opportunity for DOCCS to share information on the tremendous progress we have achieved in substance abuse treatment programs, particularly through our ongoing collaboration with our colleagues at OASAS,” said Commissioner Brian Fischer.

As outlined in legislation enacted in 2009, OASAS and DOCCS have partnered to develop guidelines for addiction services within 62 of the state’s correctional institutions. OASAS provides training, evidence-based programming and technical assistance on treatment planning.

New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez stated, "OASAS is committed to its collaboration with DOCCS and will continue to provide technical support to DOCCS' efforts to improve the quality of their addiction services."
DOCCS routinely identifies, develops and implements action plans to improve existing substance abuse treatment services. The Department’s collaboration with OASAS has provided momentum to the implementation of existing plans for enhancement of all substance abuse treatment services provided.

Last year, OASAS provided operating certificates to 5 correctional facilities, in addition to the Willard Drug Treatment Campus. Preliminary reviews from OASAS resulted in exceptional reports (“OASAS Report on NYS DOCCS Addiction Services”) to the Governor in both December 2009 and December 2010. It is anticipated that the certification process will be extended to 10 additional DOCCS facilities this year.

The agencies have also partnered on other initiatives to address the chronic disease of addiction, including new regulations of the Willard Drug Treatment Campus, establishment of the Edgecombe Residential Treatment Facility in Manhattan for parole violators and specialized re-entry units at Orleans, Hudson, and Bayview Correctional Facilities.

“Our goal is to improve treatment within prison-based services, reduce recidivism, and by breaking the cycle of addiction, improve both the public safety and health by returning individuals to their communities in recovery,” said acting Deputy Commissioner for Program Services Catherine Jacobsen.

At the end of 2010, approximately 79% of offenders identified with a substance abuse need were either participating in or had successfully completed an appropriate treatment program during their incarceration. According to DOCCS statistics, 31,490 offenders participated in Department substance abuse programs in CY 2010 (Note: total in-custody population as of December 31, 2010 was 56,315).

Aside from inmate interviews and official documents, DOCCS administers at reception two standardized assessment instruments – the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST) and the Simple Screening Instrument for Outreach for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (SSI). The MAST uses 22 differentially weighted questions to establish the existence and degree of an alcohol problem and the SSI screens high-risk individuals for substance abuse disorders.
As of March 11, 2011 all offenders who are received from DOCCS reception centers will have completed a revised version of the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST).

As a result, a score of 3 or higher will indicate a need for referral to substance abuse treatment. This is compared to the previous version of the MAST which was a 25 question screening instrument where a score of 5 or higher resulted in a referral for substance abuse treatment.

Since 2002, a modified SSI consisting of 16 questions concerning both alcohol and drug use has been administered to all inmates admitted to DOCCS.

A score of 4 or greater identifies an inmate as having a moderate to high risk of being a substance abuser.

A drafted revised DOCCS Admission & Comprehensive Evaluation process will ensure only those individuals with significant identified risk factors and/or a diagnosis for alcohol or substance abuse/dependence will be assessed a substance abuse treatment need.

DOCCS policy changes (August 2010) included readmission consideration after 30 days from date of unsatisfactory discharge (formerly 90 days), consideration for priority placement after serving Special Housing Unit (SHU) sanctions for alcohol/drug infractions, allowance for assessment of previous participation, thus treatment duration is predicated on achievement/progress toward treatment plan goals, not a “one-size fits all,” increased availability of SHU Pre-Treatment workbook assignments to all SHUs statewide, and established Treatment Plan Review Committee policies/procedures to ensure multidisciplinary treatment and continuing recovery planning.