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In 2010, there were 2.3 million inmates in our nation’s prisons and jails: 85% were substance-involved and 1.5 million met the DSM-IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction (CASA Columbia).

Substance use is a pervasive problem for all segments of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, courts, corrections, and reentry services.

To help programs and systems respond effectively to substance use by justice-involved individuals, IRETA:

  • Designs quality improvement plans and processes
  • Implements quality improvement plans and processes

What’s the difference between a quality improvement plan and a quality improvement process?

Quality improvement plans can include the following components:

  • Looking at program- and system-level data to identify problem areas
  • Pinpointing meaningful and measurable outcomes, often related to recidivism
  • Determining the program would benefit from the use of an evidence-based approach, and, if indicated, implementing an evidence-based approach like:
    • Contingency management
    • Motivational interviewing
    • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Determining whether performance contracting with vendors would improve outcomes and, if indicated, creating a performance-based contract
  • Determining if a standardized risk/needs assessment would improve outcomes and, if indicated, implementing it

Quality improvement processes require programs to:

  • Routinely access and use data
  • Identify impediments to desired outcomes and address problems as they arise in the workplace
  • Work with vendors to improve service quality
  • Monitor fidelity to evidence-based approaches and assessment protocol


IRETA Case Study: Measuring Prison Mental Health Service Effectiveness

IRETA Case Study: Program Evaluation for Renewal Treatment, Inc. Residential Drug & Alcohol Program

IRETA Blog: Completing the Program is Important…But It’s Just the First Step

IRETA Blog: What makes recovery difficult for the criminal justice system?