U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NIJ News: Breaking the Cycle

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1998
1 page
The National Institute of Justice's Breaking the Cycle (BTC) model counters the opinion that more resources or new approaches are needed to reduce the demand for drugs; BTC argues that greater gains in drug control must begin with better application of existing resources, by means of systemic reforms in the approaches to drug-abusing offenders.
BTC recognizes the research finding regarding the relationship between illicit drug use and the commission of crimes. BTC seeks persistent and consistent attention to drug abusers throughout their stays in the criminal justice system. It calls for early diagnosis of drug abusers, followed by a regimen of interventions and monitoring that is coordinated across all phases of an offender's case processing and post-adjudication sentence. It relies on the coercive powers of criminal justice to require offenders to submit to drug tests, to attend treatment as ordered, or to engage in drug abstinence as required by the courts. However, offenders do not receive special dispositions of their cases if they abstain from drugs. The first empirical test of this systems-oriented model is underway in Birmingham, Ala. and the surrounding Jefferson County. A competitive process selected the grantee, Treatment Against Street Crime of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Birmingham's BTC efforts begin at the point of arrest. Funding has been provided for additional BTC sites. The outcomes are not yet known, but BTC clearly requires extensive coordination at many levels. It is essential to integrate services around the client rather than individual departments; each county and State system should explore services integration in their own individual ways.

Date Published: January 1, 1998