A drug diversion program begun in 1991 in Multnomah County (Oregon) to reduce the increasing backlog of drug cases and to encourage drug treatment for those charged with their first drug law offenses was evaluated with respect to its outcomes, costs, and cost-effectiveness.
The program included court oversight and active judicial case management, immediate access to a dedicated treatment resource, and drug testing and a range of intermediate sanctions. In 1995, the program added enhancements to expand the target population and provide access to further services. The evaluation used data from 150 participants who successfully graduated from the program during 1994-95, as well as 150 participants who did not graduate during the same period. Program completers and non-completers were randomly selected. A matched comparison group of 150 individuals was selected from arrestees who were eligible for the program but did not receive it. Outcome variables included subsequent arrests, convictions, and incarcerations; types of crimes committed; supervision experiences; and use of public assistance such as food stamps. Those who took part in the program, particularly those who graduated, had less recidivism than those who were eligible but did not take part. In addition, the lower rates of drug-related arrests among program participants suggested that the program may have had an effect in lowering their involvement with drugs. The program also appeared to provide cost savings to taxpayers with respect to both criminal justice system costs and victimization. Tables and figures