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Impact of the Opportunity to Succeed (OPTS) Aftercare Program for Substance-Abusing Felons: Comprehensive Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
316 pages
Publication Series
The Opportunity to Succeed (OPTS) program was designed to reduce substance abuse relapse and criminal recidivism by providing comprehensive aftercare services to felony offenders with alcohol and drug offense histories.

OPTS programs were initiated in 1994 as 3-year demonstrations in five communities: Kansas City (Missouri), New York City, Oakland, St. Louis, and Tampa. The programs paired local probation and parole departments with lead service agencies that provided case management and other social services. Treatment and supportive services were delivered to adult probationers and parolees, and limited assistance was provided to their families or domestic networks. OPTS programs were evaluated based on multiple sources of information using an experimental design. Analysis relied heavily on baseline and follow-up self-report surveys with 398 treatment and control group members. Official criminal justice records were also collected for the impact evaluation. Evaluation results showed that substance use declined for both OPTS clients and the control group. At follow-up, significantly fewer OPTS clients reported alcohol use than control group members across a range of measures. OPTS clients were also significantly less likely than the those in control group to report marijuana, although controlling for baseline co-variates and attrition reduced the size of these effects. Little evidence was found to support the effectiveness of OPTS in reducing criminal behavior. Further, analysis of official records found the mean number of technical violations was higher for OPTS clients. Both full-time and part-time employment increased for OPTS clients and the control group. In general, OPTS clients were more likely than the control group to report that they received assistance to promote the family, that they experienced a positive social environment, and that their general health and mental health improved. The achievement of OPTS objectives depended at least in part on carrying out the goal of increasing probationer and parolee involvement in social service programs, particularly substance abuse treatment. There was a high degree of variation among program sites in terms of OPTS implementation. Overall, OPTS had some successes. Specifically, the program appeared to reduce alcohol and marijuana use, increase full-time employment, and improve family functioning. The program did not have discernible effects on such key outcomes as hard drug use or criminal behavior. Supplemental information on the OPTS program evaluation is contained in nine appendixes. References, figures, and exhibits

Date Published: January 1, 1999