Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 145–168 | Cite as

Alternative models of instant drug testing: evidence from an experimental trial

  • Eric Grommon
  • Stephen M. Cox
  • William S. DavidsonII
  • Timothy S. Bynum



This study describes and provides relapse and recidivism outcome findings related to an experimental trial evaluating the viability of frequent, random drug testing with consequences for use.


The sample consisted of 529 offenders released on parole. An experimental design with random assignment to one of three groups was employed. The Experimental Group received frequent, random drug testing with instant results, immediate sanctions, and referral for substance abuse treatment. Control Group I received frequent, random drug testing and treatment referral, but did not receive immediate test results or immediate sanctions. Control Group II followed standard parole practice. Members of this group were not tested on a random basis and did not receive immediate sanctions. Repeated measures ANOVA and survival analysis techniques were used to explore group differences.


Frequent monitoring of drug use with randomized testing protocols, immediate feedback, and certain consequences is effective in lowering rates of relapse and recidivism. The effectiveness is particularly salient in the short term during the period of exposure to testing conditions.


The findings lend support to the use of randomized testing with swift and certain sanctions with parolees. Additional quality evidence is necessary to generalize and refine findings from this study and others that focus on sanction certainty. Future replications must consider the immediacy of test result and sanction execution as well as the length of exposure to randomized testing periods.


Community supervision Conditions evaluation Corrections Parolees Prisoner reentry Substance use 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Grommon
    • 1
  • Stephen M. Cox
    • 2
  • William S. DavidsonII
    • 3
  • Timothy S. Bynum
    • 4
  1. 1.Indiana University-Purdue University, IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminology and Criminal JusticeCentral Connecticut State UniversityNew BritainUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  4. 4.School of Criminal JusticeMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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