Shock/Prep Unit


Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health funds a six to nine month Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program (RSAT) at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility. Commonly known as the Shock Unit, the RSAT Program is housed apart from the general correctional population with separate eating, education, treatment, and recreational facilities. The RSAT Program is a military-based therapeutic community incorporating discipline, respect for authority, and a coordinated approach involving treatment, education, and security staff. The treatment component integrates cognitive behavioral therapy, life skills training, and substance abuse treatment. Using a structured curriculum proven by research to be effective, participants learn skills in the following areas: anger management, relapse prevention for addiction and other anti-social behaviors, problem solving, communication, and parenting. Public Health Education information provides basic education about HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases and their prevention. Admission to the program is voluntary, and inmates must meet certain classification eligibility requirements.

Research on the male RSAT Program sponsored by the National Institute of Justice has proven that offenders who complete a six-month residential substance abuse program at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility experience a significant reduction in recidivism during the three years following release, as compared to those who did not complete the program, and those who had no treatment.

In response to the encouraging research results, the Sheriff’s Office created a similar RSAT program for women in 2004. With the addition of gender-specific components, the women’s program duplicates the military lifestyle and therapeutic community components of the men’s RSAT program.

The male RSAT program currently has a maximum capacity of 72 participants, and the women’s RSAT program has a current capacity of 24 participants.

In keeping with a team approach to rehabilitation and correction, both uniformed and non-uniformed RSAT staff interact consistently following standard operating procedures with all community members. Emphasis is placed on accountability, building pro-social peer support, learning and practicing social skills that will decrease their chance of engaging in future criminal activity.

Education is available for all RSAT community members and assists the participants with rehabilitation, providing them a bridge back to society during their reintegration process. All participants who do not have a high school diploma or GED are mandated to attend classes in order to prepare them to successfully pass the GED exam. Those participants who have already obtained their GED or high school diploma have the opportunity to improve their levels of achievement in reading, mathematics, and English. Students are tested to find their educational level and needs, and depending on results, attend specific classes that match their developmental level.

In addition to regular programming, inmates participating in the RSAT program who have special mental health needs are offered specialized treatment with the option to continue with the same treatment provider when released from jail.

Aftercare services for RSAT Program graduates are offered through RSAT Program treatment staff at our facility’s Pre-Release Center. Treatment staff enjoy close working relationships with local Probation/Parole Officers, Electronic Monitoring Officers, and classification staff.

Both female and male RSAT programs are dedicated to ensuring public safety by reducing recidivism through effective offender programming.