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Impact of Defelonizing Drug Possession on Recidivism

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 19 Issue: 2 Dated: 2020 Pages: 591-616
Date Published
26 pages

While there is a considerable evidence base showing links between drug use and offending and clear evidence of the impact of treatment engagement on drug-related offending, there is a much smaller UK evidence base on ‘what works’ in treatment and criminal justice partnerships, particularly in the UK. The current study used police arrest data to measure changes in offending behaviour in 116 drug-using offenders who had tested positive for opiates or cocaine in custody suites on at least three occasions in the previous year. Participants were assigned to either an intensive form of ‘quasi-coercive’ treatment (the High Crime Causing Users, HCCU) or to treatment as usual from the community Drug Interventions Programme team. The study compares changes in offending in a high-rate offending group with a standard treatment intervention. The assessment of the effectiveness of the intervention was based on arrest rates in the 12 months before and after engagement with the programme, supplemented by data collected from treatment case notes. Data analysis showed a significant reduction in offending in those engaged in the HCCU, who had higher pre-entry offending, but no change in offending for those accessing treatment as usual. There was some indication that greater retention in treatment was linked to better outcomes, and that medical sessions were associated with greater reductions in crime. The results provide some support for intensive partnership working between criminal justice drug services and the police, and suggest that intensive community work with high-rate drug-using offenders can be effective. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2020