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Integrating Substance Abuse Treatment and Criminal Justice Supervision

NCJ Number
Science and Practice Perspectives Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: August 2003 Pages: 4-14
Douglas B. Marlowe J.D.
Date Published
August 2003
11 pages
This article discusses the effectiveness of programs that combine community-based drug abuse treatment with ongoing criminal justice supervision.
Integrated public health-public safety strategies blend the functions of the criminal justice system and the drug abuse treatment system in order to optimize outcomes for offenders. Substance abuse treatment assumes a central role in these programs and is provided in clients’ community-of-origin. This enables clients to maintain family and social contacts and seek or continue in gainful education or employment. Examples of recent integrated public health-public safety strategies include drug courts and work-release therapeutic communities. Programs that have demonstrated effectiveness share a core set of attributes. They provide treatment in the community. They offer the opportunity for clients to avoid incarceration or a criminal record. Clients are closely supervised to ensure compliance. The consequences for noncompliance are certain and immediate. Research evidence suggests that public health proponents and public safety proponents may have different types of drug-involved offenders in mind. Certain offenders might be well suited to being diverted into treatment and given an opportunity to avoid the stigma of a criminal record. Others require intensive monitoring and consistent consequences for noncompliance in treatment. The degree to which criminal justice authorities and drug treatment providers coordinate their functions for a particular client should be based upon a careful assessment of that client’s risk status and ongoing monitoring of his or her progress in treatment. Programs that jointly allocate responsibility for clients to criminal justice and drug abuse treatment professionals are in the best position to respond readily by increasing or decreasing their coordination efforts, depending upon clients’ performance in the program. 39 references