Elkhorn Treatment Center

We are a committed team of professionals working collaboratively to provide impactful care that will be a catalyst for lasting positive changes with respect to criminal engagement as well as behavioral, and physical health.

The Elkhorn Treatment Center (ETC) is a 50-bed residential behavioral health center operated by Boyd Andrew Community Services. Our facility is an alternative to traditional incarceration offering female offenders a modified therapeutic community focused upon reducing recidivism. We offer substance use disorder treatment, support and management of acute and chronic mental illness, HISET preparation and onsite testing, parenting classes, criminal thinking course work, trauma-based care, as well as anger management programming. Our philosophy is to treat and care for the whole person.

ETC serves females in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections. Referrals need to be assessed as needing ASAM level 3.5 care for methamphetamine or other stimulant use disorders. We also accept referrals who are suffering from any substance use disorder that presents with treatable co-occurring mental illness.

We accept female offenders through the following channels:

• DOC commitments
• Parole and probation violators
• Conditional release violators
• Inmates of Montana’s Women’s Prison
• Convicted of a second or subsequent criminal possession of methamphetamine
• Females involved with Drug Court, Family Court, Tribal Court, etc.
• Or otherwise sanctioned by the Courts

Staff at the Elkhorn Treatment Center conduct screenings and assessments for each referral upon admission to the center. This allows staff to build an individual case plan that is structured to best support each resident. Our menu of programming is delineated below. Program offerings are augmented by individual chemical dependency, mental health therapy, and case management sessions.

• Beyond Anger and Violence
• Beyond Trauma
• Body Image and self-esteem /Eating Disorder Group
• Cognitive Behavioral Intervention – Comprehensive Curriculum
• Group Therapy for Sub. Abuse (stages of change) Module 1
• Group Therapy for Sub. Abuse (stages of change) Module 2
• Relapse Prevention Module 3
• Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Group
• EmployABILITY Enhancement and Skills Group
• Moral Reconation Therapy
• Parenting Inside Out
• Strategies for Self-Improvement and Change
• Victim Impact
• Treating Women with Substance Abuse
• Yoga and Mindfulness
• Physical activity supervised by a Certified Trainer


Treatment Programming:
Our staff delivers a myriad of evidence-based programs to facilitate a healthy transition back home. Programs offered at ETC include parenting coursework, employment readiness, mental health groups, anger management groups, trauma groups, chemical dependency groups, Relapse Prevention, criminal thinking coursework, and Victim Impact Panel.

Educational Programming:
A transition to a better future requires new approaches. We provide education and instruction to help residents without a completed high-school education obtain a HISET diploma. Staff are able to conduct testing to identify areas of weakness and then provide support in preparation for onsite testing. We have had many residents who have received their HISET diploma at ETC through partnership with the Helena Adult Learning Center. Many of our residents also work with their case manager to seek admission to various universities upon program completion.

The Elkhorn Treatment Center is a secure treatment center providing behavioral health care. Due to security needs we have a staff of Chemical Dependency Technicians who work three shifts daily. These staff provide numerous functions at the facility including facilitating outside time, resident transportation, intake processing, conducting perimeter checks, overseeing outdoor activities, and maintaining general security for everyone.

Medical Care:
The Elkhorn Treatment Center employs a Nurse Practitioner who prescribes and adjusts medications for residents. She is caring and supports our residents in close partnership with our nursing staff regarding various physical health conditions our residents experience. She and our nurses have onsite clinic weekly, with residents able to request medical care daily. We have three full time nurses on staff who provide medical care 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Our residents are able to access needed and approved offsite care and emergent care as well if necessary. Building positive rapport with medical professionals is another avenue towards future advocacy and success upon program graduation.

Dental Care:
ETC has a memorandum of understanding with South Hills Dental in Helena to provide dental care. Dental services are available onsite every other week at ETC for residents in need. ETC and South Hills Dental understand that having healthy dental hygiene is an important component of overall health and so each resident feels confident in their appearance after leaving Elkhorn.


Program Info

How are residents chosen for ETC?
All residents are prescreened by a committee for admission into Elkhorn Treatment Center. Screening packets are submitted by Probation and Parole officers across the state or from staff working at a sanction center. Members of the screening committee comprise of treatment team personnel as well as local community members to ensure equity and inclusivity of those wishing to enroll in ETC’s program.

What is a screening committee?
Our screening committee reviews offender information and decides whether the offender is appropriate for our facility. Our committee includes staff members, a P&P Officer, local law enforcement, and citizens that live or work in the area. This collaboration allows for multiple stakeholders to voice their opinions about how best to meet the needs of potential residents.

What is the success rate of the program?
This question is posed often. We had a study of our program conducted in 2017 which indicated that 83% of our residents successfully graduated ETC since inception of the program in 2007. Of that group, 78% also successfully completed a Pre-Release program in Montana. That population of successful completers was found to be substantially less likely to present in a correctional program later when compared with those who did not complete. A more recent review of data indicates that 83.5% of our graduates remain out of the system for 3+ years which is much higher than the national standard. Additionally, we conduct pre and post testing at ETC which indicates a significant reduction in rates of depression and anxiety while noting substantial gains in self-esteem. Current and up to date information as of 6/22/21 indicates substantial drops in mental health struggles during the prior 30 days, as well as data that indicates reductions in personal irresponsibility and justification for criminal behavior.

What do residents do at ETC?
ETC has a daily schedule that includes expectations of chores, meals, self-help, church services as well as scheduled programming. Keep in mind that ETC does not provide cookie cutter treatment in which everyone completes the same offerings. Our services are directed toward resident needs based upon individual screenings and assessment. While each resident is responsible for attending their classes and completing daily coursework there is a community wide expectation of positive participation. Being a treatment community allows the residents more room to create the structure they need to meet their individual and collective goals. Click here for our current daily schedule.

How long is the program?
The program is nine months in length. A few residents come to us for a period of 90 days based upon a hearing officer’s decision to offer treatment. All referrals are made through the Department of Corrections.

Can offenders have visits from my family?
Absolutely. We offer skype or zoom contact weekly for our residents and their family members. Additionally, after a lengthy period of suspending visitation due to the COVID-19 epidemic, we are again offering family visits on Saturday afternoon’s from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Residents are required to mail a visitation packet to family members they would like to have visit. This packet needs to be completed and returned. Once the packet is received it will be reviewed for approval. If a visitor is on supervision with the Department of Corrections that individual’s probation officer will need to approve the contact. Once approved, visitors will need to call ETC at (406) 447-5300 to be included on the list for visitation. Be aware that currently we are only allowing 10 people in our visitation area which includes both visitors and residents alike.

*Fearful and Avoided Questions (the other kind of FAQ’s)

“Nine Months!?! That is forever!”
Nine months is a long time. We have found that longer lengths of care are often needed to positively impact treatment outcomes. Those who come to ETC often have a long history of chronic substance use which has escalated over many years and is not properly cared for in a period of weeks. Former residents state that the very thing that scared them initially (the program length) was what they needed to change their lives to be fulfilling and successful.

“Can I have a weekend furlough?”
Our Administrator gets asked this occasionally. The answer is no.

“When I was in jail, I heard from someone who once attended ETC say you need to rat out other residents to graduate from ETC.”
Our Administrator has heard many things about Elkhorn that are not true. This is one example. We expect healthy and prosocial behaviors among our resident population. This may at times mean identifying and addressing negative behavior of others in the facility in a respectful and appropriate manner. This is built into the program to foster accountability and healthy boundary setting.

“Do I get my own room?”
We utilize a phasing system that includes additional privileges offered as residents progress. Phase 3 residents often reside in a room individually when bed space allows. The majority of our rooms are double occupancy.

“What kind of stuff can I have?”
To start with, when coming to ETC you do not need to bring anything with you. We have clothing, toiletry and bathroom supplies for our residents. That being said you are allowed to have pictures of loved ones, a Bible, approved jewelry, etc. Click here for the current approved possessions list.

“Can I get stuff from canteen or commissary?”
Yes, we have a list of items that are available from the prison commissary. Be aware that we do not allow everything in our facility that is available on commissary. Assigned case managers provide information to our residents regarding what they can or cannot obtain.

“How do I get money in my account while at ETC?”
Residents are allowed to receive money from family (up to $50 monthly) for commissary or other personal expenses (i.e. restitution, child support, cost to obtain birth certificate to obtain a license, etc.). Residents earn a weekly allowance which increases as they phase up. Case managers work with residents on budgeting while at the facility. Financial independence and literacy are integral skills that each resident can leave with if they choose.

“Is the program hard?”
The Elkhorn Treatment Center is not an easy program to complete. During a recent assessment of our program, it was noted that 83% of our residents have successfully graduated since the facility opened in 2007. We do not want to operate a program that does not push residents toward future success, which means the program is challenging. Keep in mind that ways of thinking, choices, and poor behavior have led residents to Elkhorn, changing these patterns is not simple or easy. Our staff genuinely wants to see residents complete the program, avoid future criminal activity, and manage their own physical and behavioral health issues moving forward. The treatment team is here to support each resident, to encourage their growth, and to impart the necessary skills to achieve their short- and long-term life goals.

“Are there things I can do prior to coming to ETC that will help me be more successful in making changes?”
Absolutely! Many people referred to Elkhorn have already started making personal changes. That said, the biggest factor that will assist in success is to come in with an open mind and a willingness to make personal changes. Residents often come to Elkhorn at different points on the readiness to change continuum. Having the recognition that past ways of thinking, poor choices, unmanaged or poorly managed mental health issues, and chronic substance use has led to placement at Elkhorn. The more willing a person is to look inward and make positive changes, the more likely they will achieve success in multiple areas. Trust takes time, changing a lifetime of habits takes even more time, and our staff at ETC are ready to meet each resident where they are. Our goal is to walk and work alongside our residents toward graduation and better life outcomes.

“What does a normal day look like?”
Click here for a copy of our weekly schedule. There is a standard schedule including meals, chores, and sleeping that comprises the daily routine for residents. Having structure and predictability provides residents with continuity of care. As a resident starts their courses and classes the incremental changes foster flexibility and accountability skills.

“Can I read your resident manual?”
Our resident handbook is an ever-changing document, but you can access the most current version here.

Resident Testimonials

Melissa W.:

When my probation officer first mentioned the word Elkhorn I did not want to go. I heard all the rumors and horror stories, but instead of signing my papers I decided I would give this place a try. So, I did. When I first got here, I hated it. I didn’t understand a lot of the rules and was miserable. I fought everything. Then I went to jail and had a lot of time to think about where I wanted to be in life. I decided that jail wasn’t where I wanted to be. So, I came back with my head in the game. I accepted that this is where I needed to be and started to work my program. Then I fell back again which landed me another jail stay. That week I decided that was the last time I was going to jail so I came back to Elkhorn stronger. It took me almost six months to accept where I was and to understand that I needed to move on in life. Once I started taking advantage of this opportunity and saw it as more of a privilege than a punishment, I was able to accept this place and all it was offering me. Today I thank God for sending me here. This place was just what I needed to have a decent chance at a good life.

Leanna D.:

I look back now at my time at ETC and recognize that it was a period of growth, self-discovery, and healing.  Recovery is about learning to love and value yourself enough to stop destroying yourself. It’s about forgiving yourself and others, letting go of shame and guilt, and learning to accept your true self. For me recovery has been about letting go of the expectations of perfection that I had always expected of myself. I realize that I have a choice, which is to be hopeful rather than hopeless. I can choose to act from faith rather than fear and I can choose to enjoy life rather than merely survive it. I love the feeling I now carry with me, it’s a joy for life that I’ve never felt before. I’m stronger, wiser, and more determined than ever. I have big plans for my future.

Jodi W.:

While I have been at Elkhorn Treatment Center, I have gained a better sense of myself which has given me a foundation for a better me.  I have been able to work on my negative behaviors and have made possible the goal to attend schooling to become a Dental Assistant.  I have set up housing through Section 8 and have accomplished so much more.  I love the person I have become through this life changing program.

Krysta V.:

What was Elkhorn to me? You can imagine that when the Judge sentenced me to Elkhorn, I was not happy. Of course, I heard all the rumors, and I left jail with the idea that I’d never make it through the program and honestly, I didn’t want or care to. When I arrived at Elkhorn and was handed the rules, I thought for sure this was not going to work for me. I could never complete this. I met with my LAC and said exactly that. Of course, she encouraged me to stay and give it a chance. Today I would thank my sentencing Judge for sending me here and I have thanked my LAC for asking me to stay. Elkhorn was exactly what I needed. I never thought I would say it but it’s 100% true. I was a broken and helpless person when I walked through the doors, and I can genuinely say that today after working my program and working on the underlying issues I had from life that I am hopeful, whole, and finding happiness again. It takes some self-discipline, it takes some self-reflection, and it takes effort, but if you put in the work the results are life changing. Today I am thankful for this program and will be forever grateful for the growth and change this program taught me.

Evie M.:

This program has given me another chance at life.  If you have been told you are being sent to ETC and have heard horror stories, do not believe them.  The staff are friendly and helpful, and the classes I attended in this program are very informative and realistic.  I’m thankful for coming here.  There were many ups and downs during my time at Elkhorn, but the struggles I faced taught me a lot.  I feel I was just getting by in the past, but now I am living a life for me.

Facility Images