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SMART Recovery for Courts & Corrections


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Encouraging Courts & Corrections to Offer Choice in Recovery

Individuals who choose their approach to recovery fare better. Experts in recovery, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and others agree that individuals experience better outcomes when allowed to choose among various approaches to recovery. Unfortunately, it appears that criminal justice populations have often not been provided with choices.

The value of choice applies to everyone in recovery. For a criminal justice population, including anyone court-ordered to attend recovery meetings, First Amendment rights also apply. Appeals courts and state supreme courts have repeatedly ruled that requiring someone to attend a 12-step group violates the First Amendment, and large monetary damages have been awarded in some cases. For a summary of the relevant cases, use the link below.

SMART created the InsideOut: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program® for use in correctional facilities. InsideOut has experienced tremendous growth and success in the U.S. and around the world:

  • Courts: Problem-solving courts (drug, family, DUI and veterans’ courts), probation.
  • Corrections: Community corrections (work release, home detention), parole, prison.
  • Jails: Locally incarcerated individuals serving county time or awaiting court dates and not committed to the department of corrections.

SMART Recovery and InsideOut are well-established, religion-neutral, and evidence-based. SMART’s 4-Point Program® is the foundation of InsideOut. Participants in InsideOut learn a wide range of coping skills that will help them while they are incarcerated and after they are released.

We would like to assist you in your correctional work. Please continue reading for more information.

InsideOut: A SMART Recovery Correctional Program® 

InsideOut is the correctional version of SMART Recovery. InsideOut was developed by a private company under a license from SMART Recovery, using a $1 million NIDA grant.


An effective evidence-based correctional approach for addictive problems can be an important component of the effort to reduce recidivism. Simply stated, reducing addictive problems reduces crime.


InsideOut includes a workbook and videos for participants, and manuals and videos for counselors. There is separate video content (on DVDs) for male and female participants. The InsideOut system can be readily deployed. Correctional staff with basic counseling skills require only a modest amount of time to gain an orientation to InsideOut and learn how to facilitate meetings.

Click here for more information on InsideOut.


Recent Successes:

InsideOut is used in more than 200 prisons worldwide and has experienced great success, despite budgetary restraints common to probation and corrections.

Click here to read about some of our recent successes with the program.

Important Decisions for Court-Mandated Attendance

First Amendment Court Cases

A compilation of court cases related to mandated support-group attendance and First Amendment issues regarding religious freedom.

Court-Related Resources

Resources for the courts or for those speaking with the courts.

SMART Recognition by National Institutions

“Participants regularly attend self-help or peer support groups in addition to professional counseling. The peer support groups follow a structured model or curriculum such as the 12-step or SMART Recovery models.19”

19 “Drug Courts must offer a secular alternative to 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous because appellate courts have interpreted these programs to be deity-based, thus implicating the First Amendment (Meyer, 2011).”

— NADCP, Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards, July 2013

Other recognitions:

National_Association_of_Drug_Court_Professionals-SMART Recovery
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