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Framing the National Agenda: A Research and Policy Perspective

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1997
3 pages
Based on research sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, this article documents the importance and effectiveness of offender drug treatment programs and suggests that such treatment have priority in the framing of the national agenda for corrections.
Research findings show that the criminal justice system is heavily populated with frequent drug users, often with complex drug problems that involve more than one illegal substance, who have not been amenable to treatment in the past and show few signs of stopping drug use even after long periods of incarceration. Research findings also show, however, that treatment under criminal justice coercion works with this difficult client group, resulting in overall reductions in crime and drug use within the criminal justice population. Researchers have examined the results of rigorous evaluations of a number of prison-based therapeutic communities around the country. All of them are showing that they have a positive impact and have reduced drug use and criminal behavior after release. Another important finding is that postrelease supervision combined with prison-based therapeutic community treatment has an even greater impact on reductions in drug use and criminal behavior. There are now two major research efforts being conducted that will provide local policy-makers with important knowledge about the drug problems facing their communities. This research will document the complex dynamics of drug-related issues, including changing use patterns, gang migration, gender differences, age differences, and economic and ethnic differences. Of particular importance is the emerging consensus that prisons are an important point of intervention in the cycle of drug use within the offender population.

Date Published: January 1, 1997