GAO releases report on drug treatment programs

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report examining the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) drug treatment programs and issued seven recommendations on how the agency can improve.

A bipartisan group of senators asked GAO in 2018 to study how the BOP provides drug education and treatment programs for incarcerated individuals with substance use disorders in federal facilities. The senators also requested that the report highlight existing barriers to enrolling those who need help.

In 2018, almost half of prisoners were incarcerated on a drug-related offense, and approximately 40 percent entered the federal prison system with a substance use disorder.

BOP provides one drug education program and five drug treatment programs. These programs received $584 million in funding from fiscal years 2015 through 2019.

In 2019, BOP implemented a new medication-assisted treatment program for inmates with opioid use disorder that combines cognitive behavioral therapy with the use of medications.

BOP is expanding the program but has not provided documentation about when the expansion will be completed or how it will determine the number of additional agency personnel it needs or how it plans to recruit and train personnel.

The Residential Drug Abuse Program, BOP’s most intensive program, segregates inmates in treatment from the general population.

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