Challenge Program

Program Description The Challenge Program (P5530.11, Chapter 5) is a cognitive-behavioral, residential treatment program developed for male inmates in penitentiary settings. The Challenge Program provides treatment to high security inmates with substance abuse problems and/or mental illnesses. Programming is delivered within a modified therapeutic community environment; inmates participate in interactive groups and attend community meetings. In addition to treating substance use disorders and mental illnesses, the program addresses criminality, via cognitive-behavioral challenges to criminal thinking errors. The Challenge Program is available in most high security institutions.
Time Frame Inmates may participate in the program at any point during their sentence; however, they must have at least 18 months remaining on their sentence. The duration of the program varies based on inmate need, with a minimum duration of nine months.
Admission Criteria A high security inmate must meet one of the following criteria to be eligible to participate in Challenge Program: a history of substance abuse/dependence or a major mental illness as evidenced by a current diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, or personality disorder.
Program Content The Challenge Program focuses on the reduction of antisocial peer associations; promotion of positive relationships; increased self-control and problem solving skills; and development of pro-social behaviors. The program places a special emphasis on violence prevention. In addition, there are separate supplemental protocols for inmates with substance use disorders and inmates with serious mental illnesses.
Empirical Support Interventions utilized in the Challenge Program (i.e., cognitive-behavioral protocols and a modified therapeutic community model) have been demonstrated to be effective in other treatment programs, such as the Bureau’s Residential Drug Abuse Program and BRAVE Program. Specifically, they have been noted to reduce misconduct, substance abuse/dependence, and recidivism. The mental health interventions selected for the Challenge Program also have strong empirical support and appear in multiple evidence-based programs (EBPs) registries.
Applicable Policies 5330.11 Psychology Treatment Programs.
Institution Locations The Challenge Program is available at the following facilities:

Mid-Atlantic Region Northeast Region
USP Big Sandy, KY-High
USP Hazelton, WV-High
USP Lee, VA-High
USP McCreary, KY-High
USP Allenwood, PA-High
USP Canaan, PA-High
South Central Region Western Region
USP Beaumont, TX-High
USP Coleman I, FL-High
USP Coleman II, FL-High
USP Pollock, LA-High
USP Tucson, AZ-High
USP Atwater, CA-High
North Central Region Southeast Region
USP Terre Haute, IN-High USP Coleman I, FL (H)
USP Coleman II, FL (H)