While the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has made progress, the majority of new treatment beds authorized by the Legislature have yet to come online according to information provided to Grits by Jason Clark, a TDCJ spokesperson. Here's the status of the various treatment beds authorized and funded last year (adapted from an email):
Intermediate Sanctions Facilities (ISF) -1400 beds allotted be legislature, 250 are under contract. The remaining 1150 are out on a RFP. The responses are due back July 14th for those beds that are available right now (fast track). The RFP for those beds that have to be constructed (slow track) are due back November 14th.So 2,338 of the beds are already online out of 5,650 total, or 41%. I was a little surprised at these numbers since TDCJ chief Brad Livingston told the Legislature this spring that most of the beds were already contracted.
Substance Abuse Felony Punishment (SAFP) -1500 allotted
588 "fast track" beds are already under contract. The remaining 912 are out on RFP due back November 14th.
These beds are online (see the Longview News Journal coverage of the new facility)
In-Prison Therapeutic Community (IPTC) treatment slots-1000 allotted
These beds are online
Transitional Treatment Center (TTC) -1250 allotted
We have gone through with the first round of RFP and are now on the second round. The agency is working with existing vendors to vendors, CSCD's, and Department of State Health Services to increase available capacity.
Notably, the TTC beds are the only ones now on their second RFP. Though Clark wouldn't confirm it, I'm told by sources in local probation departments that's because no one submitted a proposal in response to the request. (We won't know until November whether that will be the case with other categories of beds not yet built.) All the treatment beds proposed (except possibly for TTC) will be operated by private contractors.
There's a fear among some local probation departments that by "working with ... CSCDs," the state means they hope to dump aftercare duties on county probation departments instead of contracting with vendors or providing the services themselves. Right now such services fall under the auspices of the TDCJ's parole division.
What's more, the TTC bed shortfall potentially thwarts larger treatment and re-entry goals because they're part of a three phase protocol designed for drug-addicted offenders - in fact, the same ones occupying the SAFP and IPTC beds, both of whom enter TTC facilities when their initial program is complete. From TDCJ's website:
The program consists of Phase I (Orientation), a comprehensive assessment and orientation of the Therapeutic Community; Phase II (Main Treatment), which includes education, skills training, offender lifestyle confrontation, family dynamics, and peer support groups; and Phase III (Re-Entry), the education of offenders in the development of social skills and the recognition of the triggers of relapse. Upon completion of the SAFPF program, offenders are placed in a community residential facility/Transitional Treatment Center for three months, followed by outpatient treatment for up to twelve additional months. The aftercare phase administers a diverse range of therapeutic, residential, outpatient, and resource programs. The Special Needs program provides educational components that address Axis I mental disorders as well as personality disorders, medication regimentation, and the interaction of disorders with substances of abuse.TDCJ's website describes how the system is supposed to work in an ideal world:
Transitional Treatment Center (TTC) - is targeted for those releasees who have participated in the In-Prison Therapeutic Community (IPTC) or Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility (SAFP) programs. The TTC is the aftercare component of the treatment program for releasees from the IPTC and SAFP facilities, and lasts for three months. An additional twelve months of outpatient care follows. Specially trained parole officers supervise offenders.These treatment beds as a package were the centerpiece of prison diversion legislation enacted in 2007 aimed at reducing or ending waiting lists for treatment programs required of certain offenders before release. But the various facilities were designed to be interdependent: If Texas expands SAFP and IPTC capacity but fails to increase the number of TTC beds, it invites bottlenecks and release delays that could continue to fill up scarce prison beds, disrupt rehabilitation and stymie re-entry efforts.
TDCJ deserves credit for getting 40% of the beds rolled out within a year after they were authorized, but those beds basically represent all the existing capacity they could easily sop up. Most additional beds will require new construction - or in the case of TTC beds, possibly a new delivery model - meaning it could easily be another couple of years before the treatment package authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2007 becomes fully available.