Upon arrival to the North Dakota State Penitentiary, each inmate completes the orientation process. During the orientation process a series of screenings and assessments take place to identify dynamic risk factors. These risk factors are correlated to strong criminogenic needs and programs such as the Treatment Unit program are designed to reduce the risk factors and reduce recidivism.
During the orientation process each inmate will receive a mental health screening within the first twenty-four hours. This mental health screening begins the exploration of the inmates needs for psychological and psychiatric services. The screening also identifies the inmate’s tendency for aggression or vulnerabilities. After the mental health screening the inmate will be provided an appraisal.
The appraisal is a hybrid instrument based on the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) and the Levels of Service Inventory, Revised (LSI-R). The appraisal occurs within the first 14 days of the inmate’s orientation process. The goal of the appraisal is to gather extensive clinical information on the inmate’s historical and current risk level in the areas of medical, criminal, education and employment, family and social structures, accommodation, leisure and recreation activities, companions, alcohol and drug usage, emotional and personal issues, attitudes and orientation toward criminal activities and making major changes in behavior. Based on the ratings in each of the risk areas further evaluations may occur.
Based on the results of the appraisal the inmates may be referred for further evaluations of the identified high risk factors. Some of the more common evaluations that are conducted are the substance abuse evaluation, psychological or psychiatric evaluations, and anger management or domestic abuse evaluations. Treatment staff specifically trained in that particular area expertise conducts each evaluation. The evaluations are completed during the remaining two weeks of the orientation period. Once the evaluations are completed all of the information that has been gathered by the mental health screening, the appraisal and the evaluations comes together at the Treatment Department Multidisciplinary Staff Meeting (MDS).
The MDS meeting is where all of the clinical information on each new arrival inmate that has been collected during the first 25 days of the orientation period comes together for presentation. The MDS consists of members of the prison’s treatment department and includes licensed social workers, licensed addiction counselors, sex offender therapists, psychologist, licensed professional counselors and senior clinical supervisors. The goal of the MDS meeting is to pour over the information gathered on each new arrival inmates to determine appropriate diagnoses and treatment recommendations. The treatment recommendations are designed to impact the high criminogenic risk areas. Inmates identified with drug/alcohol abuse or addiction problems are referred to an appropriate level of treatment to address their addiction. Those referred for long-term, residential addiction treatment are placed on the Treatment Unit waiting list based on their projected release date. Appropriate inmates are eligible to enter the program when they are within thirty months of their projected parole board appearance date, have reached medium security status, and are clear to move to the minimum-security housing following completion of the program. The treatment recommendations are presented at the case planning committee meeting.
The case planning committee meeting for new arrival inmates occurs at the end of the four-week orientation period. The case planning committee meeting reviews all information gathered during the orientation period such as treatment recommendations, security risk level score, education needs, medical concerns, supervision issues and criminal history. The role of the case planning committee is to design a case plan for each inmate that makes the time incarcerated as productive as possible. The North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations goal is to provide opportunities for each inmate to acquire the tools needed during the time incarcerated that will impact the criminogenic risk areas and foster pro-social behavior and attitudes upon transition into the community.
During the inmate’s treatment period at the Treatment Unit or other treatment program, the staff continues to assess the transition to the community needs. Transition needs can consist of such areas as referral into a half way housing, aftercare programs in their local communities, continuation of psychotropic medications, family and support group participation, relapse planning and work or education plans.