Simulated evidence on the prospects of treating more drug-involved offenders
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Despite a growing consensus among scholars that substance abuse treatment is effective at reducing offending, strict eligibility rules and budgetary considerations greatly limit the impact that current models of therapeutic jurisprudence can have on public safety in the United States. A question of pressing importance for U.S. drug policy is whether it is beneficial to expand application of this model to treat every offender in need and, if so, whether a set of evidence-based, going-to-scale strategies can be developed to prioritize participation. We use evidence from several sources to construct a synthetic dataset for answering the question: What are the benefits we can reasonably expect by expanding treatment to drug-involved offenders? We combine information from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program to estimate the likelihood of various arrestee profiles having drug addiction or dependence problems. We use the same sources to also develop prevalence estimates of these profiles among arrestees nationally. We use information in the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study (DATOS) to compute expected crime-reducing benefits of treating various types of drug-involved offenders under different treatment modalities. We find that annually nearly 1.5 million (probably guilty) arrestees in the U.S. are at risk of abuse or dependence and that treatment alone could avert several million crimes that these individuals would otherwise commit. Results vary by treatment modality and arrestee traits and those results are described herein.