Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Treatment Programs

The DOC offers many programs to address an inmate’s indivudal treatment needs. 

All male inmates who enter the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) are processed through the diagnostic and classification center (DCC) at the SCI Camp Hill, Cumberland County, while all female inmates are processed through the DCC at SCI Muncy, Lycoming County. This classification process may take weeks to months to complete for each inmate. This process evaluates the person's individual health care needs, psychological needs, treatment programming needs and much more. An inmate’s security level is also assigned during this process.

Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Treatment Programs

Note: TCU is the Texas Christian University Drug Screen

Outpatient Program: medium to high risk inmates
TCU score 3 to 6
41 session program meets 3 times a week (not provided at SCI Chester)

Co-Occurring Outpatient Program: medium to high risk inmates
TCU score 3 to 6 | mental health diagnosis C and D score
47 session program meets 3 times a week (not provided at SCI Chester)

AOD Therapeutic Community: medium to high risk inmates
TCU score 7 to 9 | daily treatment program consistent of 3 phases, 4 months in duration

Co-Occurring Therapeutic Community: medium to high risk inmates
TCU score 7 to 9 | mental health diagnosis C and D score
Daily treatment program consistent of 3 phases, 6 months in duration (SCI Retreat only)

Hispanic Therapeutic Community: medium to high risk inmates
TCU score 7 to 9 (English as a second language inmates)
Daily treatment program consistent of 3 phases, 4 months in duration (SCI Chester only)

Alcoholics Anonymous: voluntary self-help program facilitated by AOD peer assistants or community volunteers

Narcotics Anonymous: voluntary self-help program facilitated by AOD peer assistants or community volunteers

Al-Anon: voluntary self-help program facilitated by AOD peer assistants or community volunteers

SMART: voluntary self-help program facilitated by AOD peer assistants or community volunteers

Double Trouble in Recovery: voluntary self-help program facilitated by AOD peer assistants or community volunteers

Recovery Program: Voluntary program focused on Recovery centered programs such as SHIELD, HEP C, SAMHSA Matrix, Addictions Journaling, etc.

Non-AOD Programs (Standardized Treatment Programs)

These programs are offered to inmates who are deemed to be moderate to high risk. If there is an identified need — such as a domestic violence charge or a violent charge — inmates are offered these programs continuously at the majority of facilities. If recommended, the inmates are required to take them while they are incarcerated. If inmates do not participate in the required programming, this information will be provided to parole decision makers as part of the inmate file.

Thinking for a Change

Thinking for a Change is a 25-session program that utilizes cognitive restructuring and social skills interventions as methods of changing criminal thinking. This group targets inmates with poor decision-making skills to work on cognitive self-change, social skills improvement and problem-solving skills development. The program is broken down into sessions focusing on communication skills, thinking processes, emotional interpretations and problem solving. While all sessions use cognitive behavioral interventions as journaling and role playing, the thinking processes segments form the core of the cognitive behavioral approaches offered by this program.

Violence Prevention

As part of the Violent Offender Initiative, which included the start of the Offender Violence Risk Typology (OVRT), the Violence Prevention (VP) Program was re-designed to better meet the needs of violent inmates. The recently revised VP is a cognitive behaviorally-based treatment program that provides inmates with appropriate skills for dealing with their tendencies toward violence. This is achieved through the use of modeling, role playing and table top exercises, as well as in-cell assignments. There are two violence prevention intensity levels. Each allows for more precise targeting of inmates’ individualized treatment needs. There is also a violence prevention booster program offered in the community and facilitated by staff in community corrections or parole field supervision staff.

Inmates are recommended for the varying intensity levels of the revised VP based on a combination of factors including, but not limited to, RST score, PAI score, OVRT category, AGG score, instant violence and violent history. This program does not address battering behavior within an intimate relationships.

Moderate Intensity Violence Prevention

The curriculum consists of 26 sessions that are delivered twice per week. There must be at least one day in between sessions. The curriculum incorporates both role playing and tabletop exercises.  All inmates participating in the Short Minimum Initiative will receive the Moderate Intensity Violence Prevention Program, when Violence Prevention is indicated. The recommendation on the correctional plan will be “Short Min Violence Prevention”. 

High Intensity Violence Prevention

The curriculum consists of 58 sessions and is the most intensive violence prevention program offered. The program is delivered twice a week. There must be at least one day in between sessions.  Topics are covered in two sessions. There are four modules which focus on cognitive behavioral skills, social learning and problem solving. Numerous table-tops are included in the High Intensity Violence Prevention program which allows for intense skill building. Inmates who are required to take this program are excluded from the Short Minimum Initiative.

Batterer’s Intervention

Batterer’s Intervention is a 26-session program based upon the Duluth Model of Domestic Violence intervention. This model addresses men who batter women. Inmates with domestic violence in same-sex relationships and women who batter are not eligible for participation in this treatment program. This program is conducted over a six-month period. If an inmate has been identified as part of the DOC’s Short Min Initiative, this group will be conducted over a three-month period. 

This group challenges the batterer's beliefs and behaviors. There are eight themes that are addressed: Non-Violence, Non-Threatening Behavior, Respect, Support and Trust, Honesty and Accountability, Sexual Respect, Partnership, and Negotiation and Fairness. Along with these themes, the corresponding negative behaviors are also addressed. In addition to group participation, a participant is required to complete homework assignments describing abusive behaviors against an intimate partner. The homework assignment helps them to identify specific actions, intents, beliefs, feelings, effects on their partner, how their past use of violence affected the situation, how they have minimized their actions, denied their actions or blamed their partner for their actions, and asked to identify and practice non-controlling behaviors to deal with the identified situation.  Participants are given the opportunity to practice communication skills, learn how to gauge their partner’s mental status as well as their own, confront others in the group on minimization, denial and blame issues and use assertive behavior as opposed to aggressive behavior.  These concepts are achieved through role playing, modeling and homework assignments, and participating in group sessions to learn non-violent alternatives.

Voluntary Programs

These two programs are available for inmates on a voluntary basis. They are typically offered once every three months:

Long Term Offender Program

The Long Term Offender Program (LTO) is designed for lifers and inmates serving sentences with minimum expiration dates of 10 years or more. The target group is inmates in their first 2-4 years of their sentence. The main program goals are to address adjustment issues and ways to make the best of living in prison. Inmates outside of this window, but still meeting the minimum expiration requirement, may be admitted. However, priority will be for the inmates in the early stage of their long term sentence.

The LTO program is 34 sessions in length, meeting one time per week. Material from several standardized DOC treatment programs and the same cognitive behavioral intervention concepts utilized in all DOC treatment programming is included.

Unlike other DOC programs, the LTO program includes mandated use of peer assistants. These peer assistants are lifers or long term inmates who have completed the LTO program and/or have been trained by the facilitator in the LTO program. The role of the peer assistant in the group is not the same as a peer facilitator. The peer facilitator actually provides the treatment. The peer assistant is a support to the facilitator and a role model for the inmates in the program. The peer assistant will aid in the delivery of program content, give insight during discussions, model and role play with the facilitator, and help keep the group on task. All groups must have at least one peer assistant assigned, but no more than two. Having a second peer assistant allows one to be present if the other cannot attend.

In addition to peer assistants, the facilitator schedules guest speakers for several sessions. Department employees, such as psychologists, nurses and chaplains, serve as experts in their topics and provide information and answers for the inmates. The order of some of these sessions can be changed to accommodate the schedules of the staff from other departments.

The focus of the LTO Program is to help inmates learn how to make the best of their life situation and positively shape their own community.

InsideOut Dad® - Parenting Program

InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. Standardized programming for 24 states and New York City, InsideOut Dad® helps reduce recidivism rates by reconnecting incarcerated fathers to their families, providing the motivation to get out and stay out of prison. Popular among both inmates and ex-inmates, InsideOut Dad® has been proven to increase family contact and improve inmate knowledge and attitudes. Hundreds of state and federal facilities, pre-release programs and community organizations are using this life-changing reentry program.

This comprehensive curriculum includes 12 core sessions and four optional sessions that coordinate with the core topics, making it flexible for a wide variety of programs. Through practical, engaging material, InsideOut Dad® increases inmates' self-worth and gives them valuable relationship skills.

  • Being a Man: What Kind of Father and Husband/Partner Am I?, Roles of Dad and Mom
  • Co-Parenting & Communication: Parenting Differences, Ways to Communicate
  • Feelings: Showing/Handling Feelings, Grief and Loss
  • Men's Health: Stress and Anger, Physical Health, Body Image
  • The Father's Role: The InsideOut Dad®, Competitive/Non-competitive Fathering, Marriage Benefits
  • Fathering from the Inside: Creating a Fathering Plan
  • Children's Growth & Discipline: Goals, Self-Worth, Talking with Children, Morals, Values, Rewards and Punishment
  • Optional Reentry Sessions: Fathering on the Outside, Responsibilities and Child Support, Visits Upon Release
  • Optional Spirituality Session: Spirituality, Faith, and Fatherhood