Skip Repetitive Navigation Links

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Several Poor Administrative Practices Have Hindered Reductions in Recidivism and Denied Inmates Access to In‑Prison Rehabilitation Programs

Report Number: 2018-113

Figure 1
Corrections' Recidivism Rate Averaged Around 50 Percent From Fiscal Years 2002–03 Through 2012–13

A graph that shows that the recidivism rate of inmates released from state prison and then subsequently convicted of a new crime within three years of release, has hovered around 50 percent between fiscal years 2002-03 and 2012-13.

Go back to Figure 1

Figure 2
The Budget for Rehabilitation Programs Increased by $64 Million From Fiscal Years 2013–14 Through 2018–19
(In Millions)

A graph that shows Corrections' budget for rehabilitation program was $234 million in fiscal year 2013-14. While this amount remained around the same through fiscal year 2015-16, for fiscal year 2016-17 it increased to $302 million. More recently, for fiscal year 2018-19 Corrections' rehabilitation budget was $298 million, an increase of $64 million compared to fiscal year 2013-14.

Go back to Figure 2

Figure 3
Rehabilitation Funds Make Up a Small Portion of Corrections' Fiscal Year 2018–19 Budget
(Dollars in Millions)

A chart that shows that Corrections' budget for fiscal year 2018-19 was $12.1 billion. Of this amount, a small proportion, $298 million or 2 percent, is budgeted for rehabilitation programs, compared to Corrections non-rehabilitation related budget of $11.6 billion. The chart further shows how Corrections allocated this $298 million by rehabilitation programs. Corrections' budget included $154 million (52 percent of rehabilitation's budget) for academic programs and $55 million (18 percent) for vocational education. Additionally, $78 million (26 percent) is for CBT and transitions programs. Transitions programs focus on equipping inmates with job search skills and financial literacy to help them reintegrate into society once released. The remaining $11 million (4 percent) is for volunteer programs which include educational, social, cultural, and recreational activities provided by volunteers or non-profits. These programs can include Alcoholics Anonymous, yard time literacy, or yoga.

Go back to Figure 3

Figure 4
Corrections Uses Inmate Assessment Scores to Assess an Inmate's Need for Rehabilitation Programs

A chart that outlines how Corrections uses its Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) and Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) assessment to determine which rehabilitative programs inmates need. The COMPAS assessment is composed of five scores which correspond to a specific rehabilitation program, programs which include academic education programs, vocational education programs, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). The chart indicates that CBT programs include Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment, Anger Management, Criminal Thinking, and Family Relationships. The chart indicates that COMPAS' substance abuse score relates to substance abuse disorder treatment, the anger/hostility score to anger management, the criminal personality score to criminal thinking, support from family or origin score to family relationships, and the employment problems score to vocational education. The chart indicates that Corrections uses the TABE score to determine academic education need. This information does exclude programs designated for inmates serving lengthy periods of incarceration, such as life with the possibility of parole.

Go back to Figure 4

Figure 5
State Law and Corrections' Policies Require Prisons to Assess Inmates' Rehabilitation Needs and Attempt to Address Those Needs Before Their Release Dates

A flowchart describing timeframes associated with Corrections addressing an inmate's needs from the time they arrive at a reception center to their release date. Beginning at Day zero, when Corrections receives an inmate at a prison reception center, Corrections has from zero to 90 days to complete COMPAS and other inmate assessments. The flowchart notes that Corrections can also perform COMPAS during annual classification committee review process if they have not previously completed a COMPAS assessment. After 90 days and upon approval by classification staff, Corrections will transfer the inmate from the reception center to their assigned prison. Before day 14 at their assigned prison, prison classification committee will convene to discuss the inmate's rehabilitation options and may assign or add the inmate to a program waitlist. A note indicates Corrections prioritizes inmates for placement into academic programs throughout their incarceration. Similarly, Corrections can also prioritize inmates throughout their incarceration, until they are within 12 months of release. The flowchart progresses to once an inmate is within five years of release when Corrections begins prioritizing inmates for placement on waitlist for CBT programs. Corrections suggested deadline for prioritizing inmates on waiting lists and assigning inmates to CBT and vocational programs occurs once an inmate is within four to 12 months of release. By the inmate's date of release, Corrections would have achieved its goal of providing programing to 70 percent of its target population. Corrections defines the target population as inmates assessed with a moderate to high risk to recidivate and a moderate to high rehabilitation program need.

Go back to Figure 5

Figure 6
Corrections Assigned 15 Inmates at the Three Prisons We Reviewed to Rehabilitation Programs Even Though More Than 700 Other Inmates Had Higher Risks and Needs

A graphic indicating the number of inmates San Quentin State Prison (San Quentin), R.J. Donovan State Prison (R.J. Donovan), and Folsom State Prison (Folsom) assigned to vocational education, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or academic education programs, even though there were inmates with higher risks and needs. At San Quentin, Corrections assigned one inmate to vocational programs even though 22 other inmates had higher risk and need. Additionally, they assigned three inmates to CBT programs even though 31 inmates had higher risks and needs, and Corrections assigned one inmate to academic programs while 369 inmates had higher risks and needs. Similarly at R.J. Donovan, Corrections assigned three inmates to vocational programs and three to academic programs even though there were 89 and 164 inmates, respectively, with higher risks and needs. Folsom assigned four inmates to vocational programs even though 29 inmates had higher risks and needs.

Go back to Figure 6

Figure 7
These Actions Will Improve the Oversight and Accountability of Corrections' Rehabilitation Programs

A chart highlighting our recommended interactions between the Legislature, Corrections, C-ROB, and external researchers. Beginning with the Legislature, we recommend that they require Corrections to establish performance targets and partner with external researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of its rehabilitation programs. The Legislature would also interact with C-ROB, by tasking them with the authority to monitor Corrections' evaluation process and require them to provide the Legislature with annual updates on the progress of Corrections' three year plan. Our recommended three year plan for Corrections includes creating targets for measuring program cost effectiveness, beginning in fiscal year 2019-20. Additionally during this fiscal year, we recommend they select an external researcher to conduct analysis and draft the scope of work to include the data elements the researcher may require. The following fiscal year, we recommend that Corrections collaborate with external researchers to conduct a systematic evaluation of its rehabilitation programs' effect on recidivism. Based on the outcome of this analysis, Corrections would take any necessary corrective actions. By fiscal year 2021-22, Corrections would, by collaborating with the external researcher, develop new targets and policies as a result of the analysis. And report to the Legislature. Also, based on the analysis outcome, Corrections would eliminate or modify programs that prove ineffective. During this process C-ROB would be interacting with Corrections by monitoring its progress and then interact with the Legislature through annual reports documenting Corrections' progress. C-ROB would also be responsible for approving Corrections' performance targets. C-ROB also interacts with the external researchers by providing oversight over the external researcher's selection, scope of work, and report presentation.

Go back to Figure 7