Study aims to help treat inmate trauma

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Corrections and researchers at Florida State University said Monday they will partner to study whether treating symptoms of trauma in incarcerated men can help reduce chances of returning to prison.

The study, funded by a nearly $1.2 million grant from the National Institute of Justice, will begin in January and require the participation of 400 young men who are scheduled to leave prison and return to four counties in Northeast Florida.

To participate, the men would need to be deemed at moderate or high risk of returning to prison after release. Once they are admitted into the five-year controlled trial, the inmates will have to partake in two programs: one that will be conducted while in prison and another that will take place in the community.

Behind bars, the program will focus on treating the men's mental-health and substance-abuse issues through a "holistic" approach. The program will focus on helping them manage their anger, cope with trauma and find jobs and housing upon release.

"Treating trauma among this population may be the key to improving outcomes and helping these young men develop and enhance their well-being and thrive at home," said Stephen Tripodi, who is part of a three-person research team at FSU's Institute for Justice Research and Development.

When participants are released from prison, they will be required to attend 10 group sessions, which will continue the treatment they received while incarcerated.