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Prosecution Backs Alternative to Prison for Drug Addicts

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Volume: 19 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 2004 Pages: 28-33,36,38
Charles J. Hynes
MaryAnn Dadisman
Date Published
9 pages
This article presents an overview of the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) program, a diversion treatment program targeting nonviolent, repeat felony offenders with serious drug addictions.
In examining and understanding the disease of drug addiction and adopting effective means of confronting it in the criminal justice system, criminal justice practitioners are becoming better acquainted with are meeting the challenge of maintaining a safe society. One of these effective means is the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) program which originated in Brooklyn, NY, in 1990. DTAP is a prosecution-run prison-diversion treatment program targeting nonviolent, repeat felony offenders with serious drug addictions. To date, the program has achieved significant success in reducing drug abuse and criminal recidivism in its target population. Two key premises behind DTAP are that the criminal recidivism of addicts can be reduced if the addiction is treated and that legal coercion can be a powerful motivator to get addicts to succeed in treatment. This article presents an overview of the DTAP program, specifically how it works, the evolution of DTAP, identifying DTAP candidates, the screening process, plea agreement and guilty pleas, the treatment phase, sentencing in the event of program failure, successful program completion and post-completion assistance, and the success of DTAP. A 2003 federally funded study of DTAP called DTAP a concrete approach to dealing with high-risk substance involved nonviolent offenders and urged corrections agencies, courts, and prosecutors nationwide to consider such a program as a cost-effective alternative to incarceration.