The Substance Abuse Treatment Program started at the Walls Unit back in 1948, when the first Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting was held. In the beginning, volunteers were used to counsel these substance abusers. Finally, the prison system realized that professional counselors were needed to rehabilitate these individuals and in 1960, the first Substance Abuse counselor was hired. During the 1960's and 1970's, the Substance Abuse Treatment Program experienced minimal growth. However, by the mid 1980's, the Substance Abuse Treatment staff had expanded to 40 employees with at least one counselor per unit. In the early 1990's, the Substance Abuse Treatment Program was transferred into the Health Services Division with a total of 107 employees. The growth of this treatment program more than doubled since that first AA meeting, and with crime on the increase the program continues to grow along with the prison population.
Responding to urgent user requests, TDCJ Data Services prepared interim systems: the In-Prison Therapeutic Community Tracking System (IPTC), the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Tracking System (SAFP), and the Substance Abuse Treatment Program. Each, however, addressed only a part of the need for a system that would resolve well-known problems.
User representatives and Data Services staff worked together for more than a year to design a truly comprehensive information management system for the Substance Abuse Therapeutic Communities, as mandated by Senate Bill 245 and House Bill 2335. The new Substance Abuse Master Plan Information Management System (SAMPIMS) was designed with user participation and agreement. Users actively participated in screen and report designs, standardization of data elements, and confidentiality issues. Designated user representatives were in frequent contact with the SAMPIMS project staff. This ensured that user needs were well known to Data Services and that users were informed of any necessary technical issues.
When the system was completed and placed in production, in September of 1994, information collected by users in the therapeutic community on their clients was established and maintained throughout the treatment cycle of the client. This cycle, the Continuum of Care, involves not only every division of TDCJ, but also the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA). Any substance abuse counselor, seeking further information on a client is able to inquire into the system. The availability of such information between TDCJ divisions and between TDCJ and TCADA makes treatment decisions better informed, and hopefully treatment more effective.