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Spectrum has a proven track record of measuring program participants’ attitudinal and behavioral change, and monitoring the overall quality and effectiveness of treatment. Program efficacy is regularly assessed using outcome measurements that track program completion rates, client satisfaction, coping skills and criminal thinking. This occurs during all phases of treatment to provide programs with real-time information to support program fidelity, pro-social growth and ultimately public safety.


Recidivism Reduction

Recidivism is arguably the single most common measure of program effectiveness for correctional treatment programs. A report from the Bureau of Justice Services revealed that nearly 60 percent of state prisoners conditionally released returned to incarceration in 5 years.

Meta-analyses completed by Steve Aos (2006) at the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, (WSIPP) showed that carefully targeted rehabilitation and treatment programs can reduce offender recidivism by estimates of 10-20%. Across the country, Spectrum has consistently demonstrated significantly lower recidivism rates for offenders completing our programs as noted below:


According to a recidivism study conducted by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget in Georgia, Spectrum’s Correctional Recovery Academy™ programs lowered the recidivism rate of participants. Nineteen percent (19%) of program completers returned to prison within three years of release compared to twenty-eight percent (28%) for non-participants, representing a thirty-two percent (32%) reduction in recidivism.


A recidivism study conducted by the University of Southern Maine Muskee School of Public Service indicated that offenders completing Spectrum’s Correctional Recovery Academy™ program returned to prison fifty percent (50%) less than offenders from the general population.

Only 16 of 110 offenders (15%) completing Spectrum’s outpatient substance abuse treatment program during a three year period returned to prison. Eighty-five percent (85%) of program completers remained conviction free.


Nearly two thousand clients completed Spectrum’s programming over a seven year period. Only 11% of released offenders returned to prison within one year, 23% within two years, 29% within three years, and 35% within four years. These results are based upon recidivism data reported by the Management and Information Systems Division of the Tennessee Department of Correction for annual data tracking and grant reporting purposes, (August 2015).

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Corrections Planning & Research Unit conducted an evaluation of Spectrum’s Think First Program using the Correctional Program Checklist (CPC) in July 2017. The program was rated as “highly effective.” The evaluators noted: “Think First may be a valuable resource to other facilities at RIDOC, particularly in facilities where assaultive incidences are high.”

Less than seven percent (6.7%) of male offenders and thirteen percent (13%) of female offenders completing Spectrum’s in-prison residential substance abuse treatment programs returned to prison within one year of release compared to thirty-two percent (32%) of the general population.

Sixteen percent (16%) of male program completers and twenty-two percent (22%) of female program completers returned to prison after two years compared to forty-five percent (45%) in the general population. According to the PEW Center on the States, more than fifty percent (50%) of all offenders released from prison in Rhode Island are returned to prison within three years.


Eight hundred seventy-one (871) offenders completed Spectrum’s programming over a three year period. Of those offenders, less than eighteen percent (17.7%) returned to prison within two years.

According to a Washington Department of Corrections study, only thirteen percent (13%) of women completing Spectrum’s therapeutic community program returned to prison within two years of release. The study noted that “these statistics suggest that TC treatment at MCCCW is correlated with a low return-to-prison rate.”


A Massachusetts Department of Correction Recidivism Study on Spectrum Recovery Academy Participants revealed a 30.3% lower recidivism rate for program participants compared to non-participants. The study went on to note “this finding is consistent with prior research that indicates a 10%-20% expected reduction in recidivism rates with the use of effective evidence based programming (Sherman, et al, 2002, in MADOC, 2009).”

Lastly, an evaluation conducted by the DOC’s Research & Planning Department indicated that Spectrum’s community-based Peer Mentoring program for offenders being released into the community reduced recidivism by thirty-two percent (32%).


Exemplary Findings

Spectrum’s in-prison treatment programs are continuously reviewed and evaluated by external entities.

CARF International

Many of Spectrum’s programs are accredited by CARF International (formerly known as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), including all of its in-prison Correctional Recovery Academy™ programs in Georgia. CARF accreditation serves as an external endorsement of performance for providers in the field of rehabilitation. Accredited organizations must meet rigorous CARF guidelines for service and quality. CARF accreditation is awarded to providers who meet state-of-the-art national standards of performance. Providers who seek CARF accreditation demonstrate a commitment to continual quality improvement.

To date, Spectrum has always received three-year accreditations (the highest level awarded). In fact, Spectrum has maintained continuous CARF accreditation of its correctional treatment programs in Georgia since 1996, having achieved six three-year accreditations.


“Spectrum Health Systems demonstrates its dedication to providing evidence-based substance abuse treatment services to persons who are incarcerated. Well-planned and well-executed clinical supervision and monitoring of the programs’ fidelity to the service model employed ensure that the persons served receive the most effective services possible. The governing authority, management, and staff members are knowledgeable and supportive of the organization’s mission and vision and have effectively employed CARF’s continuous improvement principles at all levels of the organization. This unity of purpose is evident in the ongoing efforts to integrate the treatment philosophy and behavioral management practices into the correctional settings within which they operate.”

—CARF Survey Report


Correctional Program Assessment Inventory (CPAI)

Developed by researchers, Paul Gendreau, Ph.D. and Donald Andrews, Ph.D, and endorsed by the National Institute of Corrections, the CPAI is based on years of empirical research and designed to measure the “ideal” program. Scores may range from very satisfactory, satisfactory, satisfactory, but needs improvement, to unsatisfactory. Approximately eight percent (8%) of programs assessed nationwide scored “very satisfactory” compared to thirty-six percent (36%) “unsatisfactory.”

  • Spectrum’s in-prison Correctional Recovery Academy™ programs in Maine earned an exemplary rating from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. Spectrum’s CPAI score was “very satisfactory” – the highest rating ever recorded in Maine.

  • Spectrum’s in-prison Correctional Recovery Academy™ programs in Georgia also earned an exemplary “very satisfactory” rating on the CPAI conducted by the Georgia Department of Correction Quality Improvement Department.

Other program audits have yielded similar results.

  • Many of Spectrum’s in-prison programs have participated in numerous successful audits (no findings) by the American Correctional Association (ACA).

  • Spectrum’s in-prison programs have received exemplary program audit scores (averaging 99%) from Massachusetts Department of Correction since 2000.

  • Spectrum’s Georgia programs consistently receive “no response needed” on contract compliance and quality improvement audits conducted by the Georgia Department of Corrections.

  • Spectrum’s Washington State in-prison and community corrections programs consistently receive substantial compliance on licensing audits conducted by the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.

Other Performance Results

Pre- and Post-Testing

Spectrum utilizes a variety of researched and validated instruments during the treatment process to measure progress toward pro-social competencies. The primary instruments utilized by Spectrum’s correctional programs nationwide were developed and validated by the Texas Christian University’s Institute of Behavioral Research.

  • The Client Evaluation of Self & Treatment (CEST) is comprised of four scales measuring treatment motivation, psychological and social functioning, and clinical engagement.
  • The Criminal Thinking Scale (CTS) is designed to measure criminal thinking. The 6 CTS scales include entitlement, justification, personal irresponsibility, power orientation, cold heartedness, and criminal rationalization, which represent concepts with special significance in treatment setting for correctional populations.

The results of the CEST and CTS reveal significant improvement in all areas of the CEST and CTS, demonstrating positive shifts in pro-social competencies, thinking and behaviors.

Reduction in Disciplinary Reports

Nationwide, Spectrum’s program participants received significantly less disciplinary reports than the general population. On average, 0.25 disciplinary reports occur per offender participating in Spectrum’s programming versus 1.5 disciplinary reports per offender in general population, resulting in 85% less discipline reports.

Program Completion

Nationwide, Spectrum’s in-prison Correctional Recovery Academy™ program completion rate is above eighty percent (80%). For example:

  • Georgia – 93% completion rate
  • Maine – 94% completion rate
  • Washington – 84% completion rate
  • Tennessee – 87% completion rate

Toxicology Results

Nationwide, Spectrum’s program participants had significantly less positive urine drug screen (UDS) than the general population. For example:

  • Massachusetts – In FY11, 39 out of 5,500 UDS were positive (less than 1% of drug screens conducted).
  • Georgia – In FY11, 54 out of 2,184 UDS were positive (2% of drug screens conducted).


“Across the country, the cost of incarceration averages $28,000 per inmate per year, with some states reporting annual costs as high as $47,598 (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2009). One study suggests that every dollar spent on treatment saves taxpayers seven dollars in costs associated with re-incarceration. Savings are primarily attributed to reduced crime and increased employment earnings (Ettner et al., 2006).

One study suggests that every dollar spent on treatment saves taxpayers seven dollars in costs associated with re-incarceration. Savings are primarily attributed to reduced crime and increased employment earnings (Ettner et al., 2006).”


Satisfaction Survey Results

  • Employee Satisfaction Survey

Nationwide, Spectrum’s employee satisfaction survey remains high as demonstrated by an average score of 4.19 on a scale of 1 to 5. For example: Washington (4.0); Georgia (4.25); Tennessee (4.15); and Massachusetts (3.96).

  • Offender Satisfaction Survey

Nationwide, Spectrum’s offender satisfaction survey remains high as demonstrated by an average score of 4.29 on a scale of 1 to 5. For example: Washington (4.3); Georgia (4.0); Tennessee (4.34); and Massachusetts (4.50).

  • DOC Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey

Nationwide, Spectrum’s DOC Stakeholder satisfaction survey remains high as demonstrated by an average score of 4.26 on a scale of 1 to 5. For example: Washington (4.25); Georgia (3.93); Tennessee (4.34); and Massachusetts (4.22).

Staff Retention

Spectrum understands the correlation between the caliber of staff and positive treatment outcomes. We encourage staff to consider working at Spectrum as a career, not merely a job. We recruit locally, seeking certified and/or licensed staff in most of our programs, while assisting others to obtain these credentials. Satisfied, well-trained staff yield low employee turnover, superior service and better treatment outcomes. Spectrum’s senior management team conducts a monthly review of employee turnover rates by program. Across the company, Spectrum’s employee turnover averages less than 4% - a notable accomplishment in the field.


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