The Change Companies

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Wisconsin 1997-2000 Recidivism Study Data

The State of Wisconsin conducted a recidivism analysis on a random sample of offenders convicted of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) between 1997 and 2000. The population consisted of convicted offenders who completed a drug and alcohol assessment and were assigned to substance abuse treatment (including inpatient, outpatient and extended care), Group Dynamics (The Change Companies®' 21-hour curriculum for first-time offenders), Multiple Offender Program (The Change Companies®' 30-hour curriculum that includes the participation of a concerned other and follow-up designed for repeat offenders) or Alternative Education (nonstandardized alcohol education used in extenuating circumstances). The sample consisted of 131,325 individuals over the four years, with 51.4% (67,537) assigned to treatment, 34% (44,630) to Group Dynamics, 5.2% (6,846) to the Multiple Offender Program and 9.4% (12,312) to Alternative Education.

The study was designed to compare the recidivism rates between individuals who completed the program to which they were assigned and those who did not complete their program. There are many factors that influence completion rates, including unmeasured individual factors such as motivation to participate. This makes the comparison between completers and noncompleters difficult from a scientific perspective. In this case, the groups were assigned based on their previous OWI records and alcohol and drug assessment results which provided some comparability.

Wells-Parker E., Bangert-Drowns R., McMillen R., & Williams M. (1995). Final results from a meta-analysis of remedial interventions with drink/drive offenders. Addiction, 90;907-926.

There were differences in completion rates among the various program groups: The Group Dynamics group had an 87% completion rate; Multiple Offender Program, 80%; Alternative Education, 81%; and substance abuse treatment 69%. In every group, individuals who completed the program were significantly less likely to recidivate. For Group Dynamics, 19% of completers reoffended versus 26.6% of noncompleters. In the Multiple Offender Program, 24.5% of completers versus 34.2% of noncompleters had another offense. The substance abuse treatment group had a 20.2% versus 27.4% reoffense rate and the Alternative Education group had a 15.4% versus 22.5% reoffense rate.

The Group Dynamics Program was associated with a 7.6% reduction in recidivism and the Multiple Offender Program with a 9.7% reduction. These reductions are consistent with meta-analysis findings that a remedial intervention of this nature would produce a 7-9% drop in recidivism rates (Wells-Parker, 1995).