Data is slim about RECAP effectiveness
Official data is slim about the effectiveness of the Rock County Education and Criminal Addictions Program, but participants and jail staff are convinced the program is changing the lives of participants—even those who commit crimes after graduating.
According to a Gazette analysis of online court records, 43.6 percent of the 62 people who graduated from RECAP in 2010 have since been charged with or convicted of a crime since graduation.
That leaves 56.5 percent of inmates who have not been convicted or charged since graduating from RECAP in 2010, according to the Gazette analysis.
The RECAP recidivism rate has not been formally studied since 2001, but The Gazette analysis is in line with what officials found at that time, Sheriff Robert Spoden said.
The result shows that the program is having a positive effect on many people, he said. In any counseling or recovery program, a success rate of greater than 50 percent is a good thing, Spoden said.
Spoden was a lieutenant working with RECAP when the last study was done in 2001. At the time, the success rate of RECAP graduates was between 53 and 55 percent, he said.
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections pays Rock County to run RECAP. The state paid $288,000 for RECAP in 2012, which is about the same amount the state has spent on the program annually since 2009, according to county data. That's about $60 per day for the 35 to 37 inmates in RECAP at any given time, said Sgt. Jason Harding, who oversees the program.
Most participants are in RECAP as an alternative to prison. They have been convicted and sentenced to prison with RECAP as part of that sentence. If they get kicked out of RECAP or relapse after graduation, they face prison time.
RECAP should not be confused with Community RECAP. That is Rock County's drug court. Although both programs are intended to support criminals with chemical dependencies, they are funded separately.
In addition to the money from the state, RECAP gets between $300 and $5,000 in donations each year, according to the data.
Eight people staff the RECAP program; that includes four instructors who are employees of Blackhawk Technical College.
The county does not keep data about the number of RECAP inmates who re-offend after graduation. Nor is data available about the recidivism rate for the entire jail population.
Among the RECAP 2010 graduates who have been charged or convicted on criminal charges, the kinds of crimes vary, according to online court data.
On one end of the spectrum are convictions for operating after revocation, a misdemeanor. Other misdemeanor charges include disorderly conduct, retail theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The seriousness of the crimes ramps up to felony drug possession, burglary, robbery, forgery and criminal property damage.
One man was found guilty in August of second-offense intoxicated driving.
Another was arrested this month at his Janesville home after eluding officers by driving as fast as 70 mph on the city's northwest side. The arrest was listed as his eighth on an intoxicated driving charge. He has been charged with fleeing, operating after revocation and open intoxicants.
According to an April 2011 study conducted by the Pew Center on the States, the recidivism rate for Wisconsin inmates released from state prisons between 2004 and 2007 was 46 percent.
The national average is 43.3 percent recidivism for state prisoners, according to the Pew study.
It's important to keep recidivism data in perspective, said Rock County Jail Cmdr. Erik Chellevold. Different studies take different factors into consideration, he said.
Studying recidivism only takes into account one facet of RECAP training, he said. It doesn't measure whether participants have gone home to communicate better with their families or keep themselves sober, he said.
"Those intangibles also play into it," Chellevold said. "Just because they come back (to jail) doesn't mean they haven't taken parts of our program and incorporated them into their lives."
Twelve new participants this month joined the weekly alcohol or drug addiction group for RECAP participants at the Rock County Jail. They introduced themselves by stating their ages and drugs of choice.
Here's what they said:
-- Male, 21, marijuana.
-- Male, 30, marijuana.
-- Male, 20, marijuana and opiates.
-- Female, 22, opiates and marijuana.
-- Male, 37, opiates and heroin.
-- Male, 27, marijuana and opiates.
-- Male, 19, marijuana and alcohol.
-- Male, 26, marijuana.
-- Male, 31, marijuana.
-- Male, 22, heroin.
-- Male, 28, marijuana.
-- Male, 32, alcohol and marijuana.