RICHMOND, Va. — A woman who spent four years studying a faith-based program at the Richmond City Jail says its participants had an 18 percent lower recidivism rate than other inmates.

Sarah Scarbrough also said at a news conference Monday that the program saved taxpayers nearly $8 million over the course of her study.

Scarbrough studied the effectiveness of the Kingdom Life Ministries Men in Recovery program for her doctoral dissertation at Virginia Commonwealth University. The program for inmates with substance abuse problems is led by other prisoners with the same issues. It’s spiritually based and incorporates the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Scarbrough says a key to the program’s success is that it offers housing and other transition services after an inmate is released.

This item has been updated.