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Evaluating A Presumptive Drug Testing Technology in Community Corrections Settings

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2012
58 pages
This study used multiple social scientific methods to determine whether a presumptive drug-detection technology (PDDT) developed by Mistral Security Incorporated (MSI) could be used in community corrections settings, as well as whether the technology is cost-effective.
The tested PDDT involves the use of aerosol sprays with specialized paper that reacts with trace elements of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana. The specialized paper is swiped onto a surface, including a person's hands or arms, followed by spraying the paper with aerosol. If the paper changes color, this indicates trace elements of a specific drug. Unlike urinalysis (UA), MSI's products are not meant to determine whether a person has ingested drugs, but rather whether the person has touched, handled, or come into contact with an illegal substance. This evaluation found that the PDDT was useful in community corrections settings; the testing process was readily accepted by clients and corrections staff; and most of the PDDT positive test results were for marijuana. There is apparently some cost savings in using PDDT compared to UA. This conclusion assumes that PDDT can be used as a screening mechanism instead of UA under certain circumstances and conditions. PDDT is also useful in assessing what drugs might be present in corrections facilities. Although PDDT was not evaluated in the field, the authors believe that the use of PDDT might be cost-effective when used to test and confirm the presumption of illegal drugs being used in a specific area. A majority of clients, corrections officers, and case managers believed that PDDT use in combination with UA and other drug testing methods would be effective in deterring client drug-use behavior. Based on these findings recommendations are offered for corrections administrators, corrections officers/case managers, and researchers, as well as the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). 6 tables and appended evaluation forms and interview questions

Date Published: August 1, 2012