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Intensive Substance Abuse Program (ISAP)

ISAP Program Description


The Department’s Intensive Substance Abuse Program (ISAP) is an Intermediate Sanction program that operates in the community and is administered by the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) Probation and Parole offices. It is designed to reduce incarceration, address the connection between an offender’s criminal pattern and substance use, maintain non-violent offenders in the community and create a risk-management structure that is integrated with treatment services.


Offenders must meet both the correctional and clinical criteria for admission to the Program and be deemed appropriate for supervision in the community to be found eligible for participation. Specific criteria include the following:

  1. Offenders who have a substance abuse disorder requiring intervention as evidenced by validated assessment instruments and whose clinical need can be met by ISAP treatment.
  2. Identification of a criminogenic need as evidenced by validated correctional instruments.
  3. The offender must be convicted of a crime considered moderate on the DOC’s severity of offense scale or the following offenses designated high on the scale and/or one of the following offenses:
    • Dispensing Regulated Drug.
    • Driving Under Influence 3x
    • Escape From Officer,
    • Escape or wa1kaway
    • Pass Regulated Drug to Minor.
    • Possession of Regulated Drug w/intent to sell
    • Possession of Regulated drug
    • Sale/Delivery of a Regulated Drug
    • Sale/Dispense of a Regulated Drug
  4. The offender must score medium high or high on the DOC’s risk assessment instrument. The offender can score medium if the offense is a felony DUI.
  5. It is recommended that the offender be sentenced to one to three years of real time to serve when sentenced to Pre-approved Furlough or Supervised Community Sentence. The priorities for admission are:
    1. Intermediate Sanctions: Pre-approved Furlough or Supervised Community Sentence and Discovery and Tapestry completers.
    2. Discovery non-completers
    3. Conditional Reentry
  6. The offender must agree to follow the case outlined by the DOC and any legal status conditions imposed.
  7. Probationers referred from Discovery and Tapestry will be admitted to ISAP for aftercare. The residential aftercare plan will be recommended by the sending program and may include a period of time in the intensive phase until the receiving treatment team decides that the individual is ready to move to the lower level ISAP aftercare status.
  8. The Commissioner or designee may grant exceptions to admit an individual based on special circumstances and staff recommendations.


The intensive phase of the program which includes groups three times a week with ancillary service as determined by the corrections case plan and the ISAP clinical treatment plan is expected to be 6 months. That time may vary based on performance inn the program and adherence to supervision requirements.. The Aftercare element is general 3 months with group attendance at one group per week. It too, may be different based on the client’s performance.

Program Description


As an Intermediate Sanction, the Intensive Substance Abuse Program is delivered to offenders sentenced to a Supervised Community Sentence or Pre-approved Furlough. Research has ocncluded that the provision of services which are directly linked to factors that influence an individual’s pattern of illegal behavior will reduce that behavior and result in offenders entering the community as productive people living crime free lives. This benefits the entire community in terms of both costs and safety.

The program is delivered to offenders exiting DOC residential substance abuse programs to assist in their aftercare and successful reentry into communities. The program may be used by DOC as an option for offenders who are furloughed from incarceration and/or on Furlough Re-Integration or Conditional Reentry status. Individuals assigned to the program will receive clinical services, supervision services and a variety of other services deemed appropriate by Department staff and volunteers as well as community based resources. Relapse Prevention planning designed to reinforce and support the change process will enable offenders to successfully complete the program and reduce their risk to re-offend.


Clinical support, relapse prevention, and supervision services are provided as an intermediate sanction sentencing option in a Probation & Parole office setting. All services and activities are delivered or structured (pursuant to a comprehensive case plan) by staff as well as contracted providers. Offenders are placed in the Program as a result of meeting both correctional and clinical criteria including an assessment by a qualified staff or contractor and receive a combination of correctional and clinical services. Individuals will also be referred to other community services as necessary.

Treatment services will be delivered pursuant to a clinical assessment. The standard duration of the intensive phase of the program is 6 months, followed by an aftercare component of three to six months. ISAP Treatment Teams may adjust the duration of treatment based on performance.

The Court, States Attorney, Defense Attorney, or Department of Corrections can refer an offender for evaluation as to their appropriateness for SCS or Pre-approved Furlough. A Probation & Parole Officer may refer an offender who has either a pending violation of probation or a new charge. The Intensive Substance Abuse Program must be identified by the referral source as the I.S. program requested. There are two parts to the referral process: Verifying Eligibility and Program Development

Verifying Eligibility:

  • The assigned staff member will determine whether the offender is eligible for the program. If the offender is not eligible, a notice will be sent to the referring party indicating why the client is not eligible.

Program Development:

    • Upon request of the court or a joint request by the Defense and States Attorney, the Department of Corrections will prepare an Intermediate Sanctions Report which will outline the conditions, requirements, and activities of the program.


  1. Treatment groups three times a week during the intensive phase of the program will be led by qualified substance abuse counselors.
  2. Group treatment is scheduled at least 4.5 hours per week during the intensive phase.
  3. Relapse prevention services including a completed plan for use by the offender, treatment provider, and supervisory staff.
  4. Referral to more intensive treatment when determined necessary and available.
  5. Related case planning, case work and case management provided by DOC probation/ parole officers
  6. Provision of risk control services in support of program activities by Correctional Officers who are trained in-the use of relapse prevention methods including the use of alco-sensors and urinalysis.
  7. An aftercare group to provide support and on-going relapse prevention.
  8. Provision for family education and involvement in the treatment process.
  9. Alternative treatment activities/services when clinically indicated.


The program has been studied to assess its results on a number of occasions beginning in 1998. The most recent review of its outcomes show statistically significant benefits.

In 2006, the Department reviewed accumulated data for ISAP. It was found that one year after termination from the program, completers had a 10% recidivism rate compared to 21% for non-completers.

The difference was improved for year two with 22% to 34% reconviction rates respectively. In year three, the rate jumped to a 17% difference between the two groups at 30% and 47%.

Reconviction by “Previous Conviction Quantity”, shows that for individuals with at least three convictions, the recidivism rate impact of ISAP is the greatest with completers at 22% and non-completers at 42%. This is quite significant in that it demonstrates a positive treatment outcome, affirming the hypothesis that the program achieves desired results with the population it serves.

Program Contact

Kim Bushey, Program Services Director

Department of Corrections
103 So. Main St.
Waterbury, VT  05671-1001

Tel. (802) 951-5012