Therapeutic programs for drug users in Czech prisons: outcomes, shortcomings and perspectives
Prison population in the Czech Republic includes about 20,000 convicts. About fifty percent of inmates are registered as drug users and almost 30% self-reported the characteristics of a problem drug user. Specific treatment programs for imprisoned drug users have the potential to contribute to reducing criminal recidivism and to rehabilitating or resocializing drug-using prisoners in general. In the Czech Republic, such treatment programs are run at specialised departments for the treatment of drug addiction (SDDA). Aim of the paper is to present results of IKSP´s research on effectiveness of therapeutic treatment programs at SDDA´s in terms of their potential impact on the criminogenic attitudes and thinking patterns ('criminal thinking') of program participants and their criminal recidivism after release. Criminal thinking among participants was measured by means of the Czech version of the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles (PICTS) – PICTS-cz. Participants entering the program between November 2016 and June 2017 were tested twice. The change of participants´ criminal thinking during the course of the program was measured and results were compared with two control groups – (a) imprisoned problem users not participating in the program, and (b) imprisoned occasional users/non-users. The criminal recidivism of program participants was ascertained using data on criminal convictions from the Penal Register. Results were compared with the control groups as well.
Significant changes in participants´ pre- and post- program criminal thinking were found. Compared to control groups, their mean differences between pre-test and post-test results were significantly better. It indicates the positive influence of the program on the criminogenic thinking patterns of imprisoned drug users. However, the rate of participants´ criminal recidivism after their release remained high.
The program is obviously able to bring about the desired changes in the criminogenic attitudes of prisoners, but this effect cannot be maintained and slowly dissipates on leaving the SDDA. The potential of programs in terms of reducing criminal recidivism following release from prison is largely untapped.