Program Goals/Target Population
The Forever Free program at the California Institution for Women (CIW) began as the first comprehensive prison-based substance abuse treatment program in the United States for incarcerated women. The program works to reduce the incidence of substance abuse, the number of in-prison disciplinary actions, and recidivism following release to parole by providing a range of treatment services to meet the needs of participants. Forever Free consists of two parts:
An intensive 6-month program provided to women inmates near the end of their incarceration period
Community-based residential treatment for women who graduated from the program and volunteer to continue treatment while on parole
While incarcerated, women inmates in the Forever Free program are housed in a 120-bed residential unit and participate in program services 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. The time spent in treatment is in addition to a participant’s 8-hour-per-day work or education assignment. In-prison services include individual substance abuse counseling, special workshops, educational seminars, 12-step programs, parole planning and urine testing. In addition, individual and group sessions cover a number of subjects believed to be crucial to women’s recovery, including self-esteem, anger management, assertiveness training, healthy versus disordered relationships, abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, codependency, parenting, and sex and health.
Upon graduation from Forever Free and discharge to parole, women can voluntarily enter a community-based program provided by a variety of treatment organizations in Southern California. Each of these programs is residential and has a designated number of treatment slots for Forever Free graduates. The expected length of stay in a program is 6 months. Program services vary across sites, although basic services such as individual and group counseling are common to all programs. Most programs also offer family counseling, vocational training/rehabilitation, and recreational or social activities.
The program follows a cognitive–behavioral curriculum stressing relapse prevention (Gorski and Miller 1979, Marlatt 1985). The Gorski curriculum was designed to assist clients in identifying symptoms of post-acute withdrawal and relapse and teach clients skills and strategies to successfully deal with them.