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Evaluating the Implementation & Impact of a Seamless System of Care for Substance Abusing Offenders: The HIDTA Model

NCJ Number
Date Published
56 pages
This document offers an evaluation of a model program for treatment of inmate drug addiction.
In 1999, 14 percent of the probation population and 42 percent of the parole population were returned to prison for a violation related to abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol. The authors explain that traditional treatment and control strategies have been unable to change offender drug use. In response, in 1994 the Office of National Drug Control Policy sponsored a model program incorporating drug treatment within the criminal justice system called the Seamless System of Care. It was implemented within High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. This document reports on an evaluation of this model program including an examination of its development, implementation, and impact. Twelve jurisdictions were examined for this report and data include demographic and criminal history, treatment placement and progress, supervision and services, drug testing results, and the use of sanctions by either the treatment agency or the criminal justice agency. Results indicated that the model program was not fully implemented in 8 out of the 12 jurisdictions; however, major changes in practices were evident in all 12 jurisdictions. Many of the site-specific variations in the development of the program could be linked to resource constraints. Results of drug testing indicated that there was a 49 percent decline in positive drug test results during the treatment period. Researchers also found that the recidivism rates among those offenders taking part in the treatment program dropped. The rate of reduction in recidivism varied across jurisdictions, from a 33 percent reduction to a 90 reduction in re-arrests. Researchers point to three key components of the system as needing to be addressed in order to successfully implement the program. First, programs need to target the needs and risks of offenders in order to successfully treat their addictions. Second, programs should offer a variety of high quality treatments to address the specific needs of the offender. Third, programs need to consistently administer responses to noncompliance in a swift and certain manner. In conclusion, the authors note that the implications of this evaluation show that a seamless system of care has merit in treating drug addicted inmates, especially those known to be hard-core drug users. Tables, references, figures

Date Published: January 1, 2002