Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Utah State Prison main entrance Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.

Utah Department of Corrections has employed — with success — the model of residential therapeutic communities for substance abusers for many years within its prison facilities. Many might argue that the department has not been successful. However, the programs have reduced recidivism, taught offenders critical skills and prepared them for success.

This reduction in recidivism shows that the department is diligently fulfilling the role the public has entrusted it with — the role to correct offenders' behaviors. One of the ways these programs correct offenders' behaviors is through the imitation of a community environment, one that the offenders would live in once released from custody. The offenders' therapeutic community in prison gives them structure, teaching them skills of leadership, holding them accountable for actions and requiring them to be responsible for their lives. When offenders leave the therapeutic community of the prison and enter into one of society's communities, they are prepared for success. They have a 15.4 percent better chance of success than those who did not participate in the prison's substance abuse program. The Department of Corrections is moving in the correct way to change the behaviors of Utah's offenders.

Daniel Cox

La Verkin