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To Treat or Not To Treat: Evidence on the Prospects of Expanding Treatment to Drug-Involved Offenders

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2008
112 pages
This study examined whether it would be cost-beneficial to suspend current eligibility limitations for offender substance abuse treatment in order to include more drug-involved offenders in treatment.
The study concluded that removing existing eligibility restrictions for substance abuse treatment would continue to produce public-safety benefits that exceed associated costs. Removing all eligibility restrictions and allowing access to treatment for all 1.47 million at-risk arrestees would be the most cost-effective strategy, producing more than $46 billion in benefits at a cost of $13.7 billion. Since data required for providing evidence-based analysis of this issue are not readily available, micro-level data from three nationally representative sources were used to construct a synthetic dataset that consisted of a defined drug-using population rather than sampled observation. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program were used to develop profile prevalence estimates. Data from the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study were used to compute expected crime-reduction benefits of treating clients with particular profiles. The resulting synthetic dataset, which was composed of just over 40,000 distinct profiles, permitted the cost-benefit analysis of a limited number of simulated policy options. 21 tables, 3 figures, 74 references, and appended mathematical methodology

Date Published: April 1, 2008