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Effective Supervision Strategy for Substance-Abusing Offenders

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 61 Issue: 2 Dated: June 1997 Pages: 38-44
S Torres
Date Published
7 pages
This third article in a series on the supervision of drug-abusing offenders describes the development and implementation of a total-abstinence drug abuse policy in the Federal probation office in the Central District of California (CDC).
The first article concluded that considerable research does not support the medical model of maladaptive behavior as pathology and described a model that integrated social learning and choice theories. The second article observed that offenders coerced into treatment have higher long-term recovery rates than those who enter voluntarily and that drug treatment is associated with significant reductions in criminality, drug use, and other lifestyle problems. This article reports that the CDC began to develop a supervision strategy based on these principles in the mid-1970s. Its policy is total abstinence with predictable consequences for drug use. The strategy includes sophisticated and active drug testing, clearly defined sanctions for program noncompliance and/or drug use, and drug treatment. In 1984 and 1986, the Federal Judicial Center conducted a study of aftercare programs in 10 Federal judicial districts. Findings indicated the effectiveness of the CDC strategy in deterring drug use and preventing new criminal conduct, especially when compared with the general leniency in other districts. Caseload increases may make the program less effective; efforts are needed to ensure manageable caseloads, sufficient residential beds, and the continuation of the specialized senior drug officer positions. 12 references