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Texas Urged to Build on Prison Treatment System

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Texas serves as a national model for providing addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs to prison inmates, but could do even more to cut recidivism rates and divert offenders from prison to treatment, according to former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.

The Austin American-Statesman reported March 4 that Dukakis visited Austin to promote increased investment in treatment and tout the cost savings of providing alternatives to incarceration.

Dukakis said that Texas could build on the prison reforms started two years ago by expanding treatment coverage in the state Medicaid system.

“Lives are being saved,” Dukakis said. “There's nothing partisan about this issue … I hope all the states can expand their programs like Texas has.”

“How often do you hear that — someone from Massachusetts congratulating Texas?” said John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat who chairs the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee. “Texas is trying. We're trying to make a difference.”

Dukakis was the Democratic nominee for president in 1988 and led Join Together's Blueprint for the States policy panel, a wide-ranging initiative to encourage policymakers to adopt best practices regarding addiction issues and invest in treatment and prevention services. 

More: Read the full report

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