U.S. flag

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

Drug Testing for Youthful Offenders on Parole: An Experimental Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1998
185 pages
This report presents the findings of a 5-year experimental study of drug testing for youthful offenders released to parole.
The study's intent was to determine how much drug testing should be part of regular parole supervision. For juveniles committed to the California Youth Authority (CYA), parole follows a determination by the Youthful Offender Parole Board (YOPB) that the offender has made sufficient progress to warrant release into the community. Youthful parolees are not, for the most part, "drug offenders," but are serious offenders who also have substance abuse problems. Drug testing is believed to reduce drug use among offenders through deterrence and detection. This study was designed to assess differences in outcome (if any) for comparable groups that differed in the amount of drug testing but not in other aspects of supervision. By maximizing scientific rigor, the study sought to obtain the best assessment of the effectiveness of drug testing levels, independent of the effects of other aspects of parole supervision. The sample included all wards committed directly to the CYA from juvenile or adult courts who were released to parole over the course of 10 months (November 1992 through August 1993). The study found that positive drug tests during the first 3 months of parole predicted higher levels of arrest over the follow-up period up to 42 months. These results suggest that drug testing might be used as a risk assessment tool to identify parolees who demonstrate their higher criminal propensity by submitting positive urine samples early during parole. Regarding the strategy for drug testing, the evaluation recommends minimal surprise testing, but regular, frequent testing during the first 3 months of parole. 15 tables, 13 figures, and 44 references

Date Published: August 1, 1998