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Treatment Modality, Failure, and Re-Arrest: A Test of the Risk Principle With Substance-Abusing Criminal Defendants

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 46 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2016 Pages: 234-246
W. A. Reich; S. Picard-Fritsche; M. Rempel; E. J. Farley
Date Published
July 2016
13 pages

This study tested the risk principle with 400 New York City drug-court participants, using demographic data and data on criminal history, instant case, treatment modality, program failure, and rearrest.


Actuarial risk scores were created for program failure and re-arrest by performing stepwise logistic regressions based on criminal history, present case, and demographic predictors of these outcomes. Placement in a residential (vs. outpatient) setting increased the likelihood of program failure and re-arrest after controlling for actuarial risk scores. Residential placement was particularly counter-productive with low-risk program participants, whose re-arrest rate was more than double that of low-risk participants placed in an outpatient setting. Conversely, placement of low-risk participants in the least restrictive treatment modalitya non-intensive outpatient settinglowered the likelihood of re-arrest relative to placement either in a residential setting or an intensive outpatient program. Results are discussed in terms of the Risk-need-responsivity model of offender intervention, which recommends avoiding overly restrictive treatment of low-risk offenders. 26 references (Publisher abstract modified)