Division of Criminal Justice Services

Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program

The federally-funded Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) Program was created in 1994 to address the high incidence of incarcerated persons with substance abuse problems.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, studies and statistics indicate that the fastest and most cost-effective way to reduce the demand for illicit drugs is to treat chronic, hardcore drug users. They consume the most drugs, commit the most crimes, and burden the health care system to the greatest extent. Without treatment, chronic hardcore users continue to use drugs and engage in criminal activity and, when arrested, they too frequently continue their addiction upon release. The cycle of dependency must be broken and the revolving door of criminal justice brought to a halt.

Research shows consistent reductions in recidivism rates for offenders completing in-prison substance abuse treatment programs. Successful outcomes are tied to the length of time in treatment (at least 6 months) and continued treatment in the community after release. Programs that address the myriad problems associated with the lifestyle of drug use and addiction are the most effective.*

New York State implements the RSAT program through grant contracts with the NYS Department of Corrections. The funds are utilized to create and maintain drug abuse and lifestyle counseling and services within several prisons across the state. Many prison programs have as their primary mission the reduction of substance abuse among inmates, but programs vary as to criteria and implementation. For example, one program implemented in the Mid State Correctional facility addresses substance abuse among offenders serving sentences for sex offenses. A correlation has been found between substance abuse and sexual offending.

In 2003, federal guidelines introduced the requirement that 10% of a state's RSAT allocation be reserved for local correctional facilities. NYC was awarded these funds to support aftercare services for parolees being held in their facilities.

New York 's RSAT funding has been cut by more than 85% since 2003, substantially reducing its impact on state and local substance abuse services.

For more information on the RSAT program, log onto the following site and follow the links to the appropriate calendar year's RSAT application: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/funding/.

* OJP Corrections Program Office. Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners. FY1997 Program Guidance and Application Kit. Introduction