APPA, NASADAD join forces to treat substance abuse.
Probation officials have long felt they were in a unique position to provide substance abuse services and to coordinate the community resources needed to deliver appropriate treatment programs.
In their book, Treating Drug Problems, Gerstein and Harwood support the idea of community-based treatment. In addition, many criminal justice practitioners have begun to feel that, as substance abuse expert Carl Leukefeld has stated, "the use of criminal justice authority is probably one of the stronger indicators for increasing the length of time an individual remains in community drug abuse treatment, which has also been consistently associated with effective drug abuse treatments."
There is no question that probation can be a means to maintain offender participation in community treatment. The American Probation and Parole Association has made finding ways to improve and increase the effectiveness of probation in managing drug offenders a priority. In conjunction with the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, APPA approached the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the spring of 1989 for help in developing a training curriculum designed to improve cooperation between substance abuse treatment agencies and probation agencies.
The curriculum was developed based on a comprehensive survey of treatment and probation agencies that identified a number of concerns in both systems, including:
* developing areas of commonality;
* improving communication between services;
* handling issues of confidentiality;
* facilitating implementation of joint approaches;
* clarifying roles and understanding systems differences;
* managing the drug-involved offender; and
* creating interagency partnerships.
APPA and NASADAD staff worked closely with practitioners to develop a curriculum and resource guide that would address the concerns identified. After a pilot program in Atlanta received enthusiastic support, four states--Virginia, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Texas--were selected to receive the training and follow-up technical assistance to enable them to develop a coordinated system for working with drug-involved offenders in the community.
Administrators and line staff from both probation and treatment agencies met for five days of training that culminated in the development of a draft interagency agreement. The training emphasized clarifying roles and identifying possibilities for each service and helped states define the communication linkages needed to deal with concerns associated with the drug-involved offender.
Follow-up evaluations indicate that progress had been made. Agencies involved have changed policies and developed protocols to better serve client populations. A number of changes that have occurred include:
* establishment of interagency advisory boards;
* development of in-service training for staff of both probation and treatment agencies;
* communication to foster an understanding of each agency's function and role;
* formal interagency agreements;
* programs for joint case planning;
* designation of a probation counselor as a substance abuse specialist; and
* interagency staffing on mutual cases.
Participants say that establishing communication networks and developing formal, written interagency agreements have been the main benefits of the project. They clearly have found a way to harness the authority, control and accountability of the criminal justice system and balance it with the potential for growth and development provided by the treatment system. This approach cannot help but improve community management of drug-involved offenders. In an era of scarce resources, this approach paves the way for even bolder efforts at interagency cooperation and coordination. It would be an exciting outcome to see partnerships among schools, treatment agencies, corrections and the police to deal with drugs in our society in a way that realizes the potential of community involvement.
The individualism of our major social institutions must give way to a new emphasis on coordinated efforts if our communities are to be restored and drugs and violence are to be controlled. The APPA-NASADAD project begs to be replicated by many agencies involved with troubled youths and drug-involved offenders.
Gerstein and Harwood. 1990. Treating drug problems. The National Academy Press. Donald G. Evans is assistant deputy minister of the Policing Services Division of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services in Ontario, Canada.
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|Title Annotation:||American Probation and Parole Association; National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1994|
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