Data from the Multnomah County (Oreg.) Drug Testing and Evaluation (DTE) Program were used to evaluate the effects of systemwide drug testing, with emphasis on whether DTE reduces criminal activity and increases compliance with court orders among defendants or offenders released under the supervision of the courts.
DTE was funded as an 18-month demonstration program by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The program is operated by the Multnomah County Department of Community Corrections and provides regular random drug tests designed to monitor compliance with release conditions and progress in treatment programs and to signal to court supervisors when intervention is needed. DTE services also include standardized evaluations of the severity of drug abuse and the need for treatment to facilitate early intervention and appropriate referrals to treatment. The evaluation of the pretrial component of DTE used an experimental design; the evaluation of the probation and parole component of DTE used a cross-sectional. Results revealed that the DTE program of drug testing did not significantly reduce arrests among offenders or increase compliance with conditions of court orders. Findings may reflect the lack of sanctioning for positive tests and failure for scheduled tests; the violation rates were high. Results were weakened by other problems in implementation as well. Limitations in the study design must also be considered in interpreting these results. Overall, findings are consistent with those of earlier studies and suggest that drug testing alone is not effective in reducing criminal activity and improving compliance with court orders. Tables, appended tables, and 48 references
Date Published: January 1, 1994