Friday, May 30, 2008
To Treat or Not To Treat:EVIDENCE ON THE PROSPECTS OF EXPANDING TREATMENT TO DRUG-INVOLVED OFFENDERS
Despite a growing consensus among scholars that substance abuse treatment is effective in reducing offending, strict eligibility rules have limited the impact of current models of therapeutic jurisprudence on public safety. This research effort was aimed at providing policy makers some guidance on whether expanding this model to more drug-involved offenders is cost-beneficial.
Since data needed for providing evidence-based analysis of this issue are not readily available, micro-level data from three nationally representative sources were used to construct a synthetic dataset—defined using population profiles rather than sampled observation—that was used to analyze this issue. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program were used to develop profile prevalence estimates. Data from the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study (DATOS) were used to compute expected crime reduction benefits of treating clients with particular profiles. The resulting synthetic dataset—comprising of over 40,000 distinct profiles—permitted the benefit-cost analysis of a limited number of simulated policy options.We find that roughly 1.5 million arrestees who are probably guilty (the population most likely to participate in court monitored substance abuse treatment)are currently at risk of drug dependence or abuse and that several million crimes could be averted if current eligibility limitations were suspended and all at-riskarrestees were treated. [Mark Godsey]