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Diversion of nonviolent substance abuse parolees: putting research into practice.

M.D. was preparing himself for the worst. Based on past experience,

he knew what the parole system had in store for him, or at least he thought he did. He had been in and out of custody for most of the past 15 years for a variety of nonviolent offenses, including burglary and controlled, dangerous substance charges, and figured he was going back to jail yet again for drinking beer, a violation of his parole conditions. M.D. decided that it would be best to be honest with his parole officer this time and to admit his return to alcohol usage. He just wanted to get it over with and had already prepared his girlfriend for his return to custody. M.D. had put his affairs in order and was hoping to be out of jail by next summer. What he did not expect was another chance. Within 48 hours of his most recent visit to his parole officer, M.D. was placed in a residential substance abuse treatment facility for a minimum of 90 days as part of the New Jersey State Parole Board's new direct diversion program A diversion program in the criminal justice system is a program run by a district attorney's office designed to enable offenders of criminal law (usually minor offenses) to avoid criminal charges [1][2].  for nonviolent offenders.

As part of an ongoing agenda to create a more balanced and effective casework case·work  
Social work devoted to the needs of individual clients or cases.

 approach to parole supervision, the New Jersey State Parole Board pa`role´ board`

n. 1. A group of individuals with authority to determine whether a prisoner will be granted parole from a particular prison.
 adopted a new operational philosophy in the fall of 2003. In lieu of Instead of; in place of; in substitution of. It does not mean in addition to.  routinely arresting parole violators for drug or alcohol usage, a new policy was implemented to divert ex-offenders with chronic substance abuse problems out of the parole revocation The recall of some power or authority that has been granted.

Revocation by the act of a party is intentional and voluntary, such as when a person cancels a Power of Attorney that he has given or a will that he has written.
 process and place them directly into appropriate treatment facilities with little or no time spent in custody awaiting a formal hearing. During 2004, as part of this new initiative, a total of 634 parolees were diverted into one of the parole board's privately contracted residential treatment programs for periods ranging from 90 to 180 days. The 634 parolees, who prior to the state parole board's new community programs direct diversion initiative could have been returned to prison for a period of 12 months, will now be receiving much-needed treatment for their addictions. An additional benefit is that this diversion will be accomplished at a significant savings to taxpayers when compared with reincarceration. The New Jersey Department of Corrections The New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) is responsible for operations and management of prison facilities in the U.S. state of New Jersey. The department operates 14 major institutions — eight adult male correctional facilities, three youth facilities, one facility  reports that the annual institutional cost is approximately $28,000 per inmate INMATE. One who dwells in a part of another's house, the latter dwelling, at the same time, in the said house. Kitch. 45, b; Com. Dig. Justices of the Peace, B 85; 1 B. & Cr. 578; 8 E. C. L. R. 153; 2 Dowl. & Ry. 743; 8 B. & Cr. 71; 15 E. C. L. R. 154; 2 Man. & Ry. 227; 9 B. & Cr. , or almost $77 per day. In comparison, the cost for placing the offender in one of the residential diversionary programs ranges from approximately $46 to $60 per day. With the anticipated increase of residential treatment facility bed space contracted by the New Jersey State Parole Board in 2005, the savings could be appreciable ap·pre·cia·ble  
Possible to estimate, measure, or perceive: appreciable changes in temperature. See Synonyms at perceptible.

The Logic and the Research Behind Diversion

The main concern for any community corrections agency is the implementation of programs that have great potential to implement change in ex-offenders. The question of "what works?" has been asked time and time again. In 1974, Robert Martinson released "What Works? Questions and Answers About Prison Reform," a study that revealed less than promising outcomes of several rehabilitation programs Noun 1. rehabilitation program - a program for restoring someone to good health
program, programme - a system of projects or services intended to meet a public need; "he proposed an elaborate program of public works"; "working mothers rely on the day care
 (52 percent of the programs examined were not found to be successful) and the media ran with it, trumpeting "nothing works." Today, researchers and criminal justice professionals realize the errors in Martinson's study and have found that many programs do work and can reduce recidivism recidivism: see criminology. . Thus far, a lot of energy has been placed on examining program effectiveness of pretrial pre·tri·al  
A proceeding held before an official trial, especially to clarify points of law and facts.

1. Of or relating to a pretrial.

 intervention on probationers and on prison inmates. One area given less attention in the attempt to reduce recidivism is with parolees. However, with the imprisonment Imprisonment
See also Isolation.

Alcatraz Island

former federal maximum security penitentiary, near San Francisco; “escapeproof.” [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 218]

Altmark, the

German prison ship in World War II. [Br. Hist.
 binge and the reentry reentry n. taking back possession and going into real property which one owns, particularly when a tenant has failed to pay rent or has abandoned the property, or possession has been restored to the owner by judgment in an unlawful detainer lawsuit.  initiative taken by the federal government and followed by state governments, this error is being remedied. In order to reduce prison crowding and to address the root of criminal behavior, many justice agencies are now focusing on diversionary programs at the parole stage.

Diversion redirects people from the justice system into a social or community service agency thereby allowing them to obtain much-needed help. Diversion has its roots in labeling theory, the idea that a person processed through the criminal justice system will be more stigmatized than a person handled informally, as well as in the idea that incarceration Confinement in a jail or prison; imprisonment.

Police officers and other law enforcement officers are authorized by federal, state, and local lawmakers to arrest and confine persons suspected of crimes. The judicial system is authorized to confine persons convicted of crimes.
 can do more damage than good. In 1967, the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended the establishment of services to divert youths from the justice system. (1) As a result, communities all over the nation established youth and adult diversion programs. Diversion quickly came to be viewed as a cost-cutting way to reduce crowding in juvenile detentions and secure facilities, as well as in adult prisons and jails.

The incentives for diversion for ex-offenders with a history of substance abuse cannot be ignored. It has long been known that there is an association between substance abuse and criminal activity. However, research has long found that in most cases drug use and abuse alone does not lead to criminal activity. Criminal activity often commences in congruence con·gru·ence  
a. Agreement, harmony, conformity, or correspondence.

b. An instance of this: "What an extraordinary congruence of genius and era" 
 with the commencement of drug use, thus mutually exacerbating ex·ac·er·bate  
tr.v. ex·ac·er·bat·ed, ex·ac·er·bat·ing, ex·ac·er·bates
To increase the severity, violence, or bitterness of; aggravate:
 the offender's problems. Drugs also tend to work as a disinhibitor to the maintenance of socially acceptable behaviors. (2) However, it cannot be ignored that drug addiction drug addiction
 or chemical dependency

Physical and/or psychological dependency on a psychoactive (mind-altering) substance (e.g., alcohol, narcotics, nicotine), defined as continued use despite knowing that the substance causes harm.
 in many cases does lead to criminal activity for the purpose of supporting the habit. For whatever reason, the association exists and the problem must be addressed. A return to prison does not seem to be the answer for these offenders.

Diversion also works to allow the offender the opportunity to maintain ties to family and conventional organizations in society. Research has found that social ties to fellow inmates strengthen with time while familial familial /fa·mil·i·al/ (fah-mil´e-il) occurring in more members of a family than would be expected by chance.

 ties weaken. (3) Additionally, most offenders will return to their pre-incarceration communities, where these ties have weakened over time, expecting to receive the social support needed to successfully complete parole. For the inmate, the combination of a lack of prison programs designed to provide job skills, life skills and substance abuse rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. ; the weakened familial support; and a renewed confrontation with their enduring social problems that led to the ex-offender's predicament often lead to new offenses or technical violations. As a result, it is logical to assume that an ex-offender should be allowed to remain in the community when the parole violation does not involve a new criminal offense. The New Jersey State Parole Board has advanced with this logical approach, as it is supported by research and is putting this research into practice.

Much of the research has focused on diversion in the early stages of criminal justice processing, such as at the pre-arrest or post-arrest stage, at pretrial intervention, or at the sentencing stage. Research on drug court effectiveness (diversion from criminal court processing) has found that attending treatment is effective in decreasing re-offending. (4) Other social science research has found that diversion programs are effective in reducing recidivism among juvenile delinquents juvenile delinquent n. a person who is under age (usually below 18), who is found to have committed a crime in states which have declared by law that a minor lacks responsibility and thus may not be sentenced as an adult. , while still others have found success in diversion for those identified as mentally ill with a history of substance abuse. (5) These studies have revealed promise for diversion as a mechanism to reduce recidivism. It is obvious that the idea that "nothing works" is passe pas·sé  
1. No longer current or in fashion; out-of-date.

2. Past the prime; faded or aged.

[French, past participle of passer, to pass, from Old French; see
. Taking this knowledge into account, the New Jersey State Parole Board has implemented several diversion programs for nonviolent parolees with a history of drug abuse. With the proper implementation of the new programs, the task now becomes to examine their effectiveness on ex-offenders like M.D.

The Board's Community Programs

The New Jersey State Parole Board's Community Programs Unit is committed to providing individuals under parole supervision with a full spectrum of assistance in the form of community-based treatment programs, thereby hoping to break the seemingly endless reincarceration cycle for nonviolent offenders with extensive substance abuse histories. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Kevin McHugh
This article is about the football player, Kevin McHugh. For the pianist and composer, see Kevin McHugh (musician).

Kevin McHugh (born January 19, 1980 in Letterkenny, Ireland) is an Irish football (soccer) player currently with the League of
, director of the Community Programs Unit, incarcerating parolees for using drugs is ineffective and would eventually return them to the community ill equipped to deal with their addictions. The unit was created to give parole officers another treatment option when managing their caseloads and also to give parolees every chance to succeed. The program is designed to divert suitable candidates out of the revocation re-parole custody cycle, and into one of several inpatient programs, where they would receive intensive substance abuse and life-skills counseling in a residential and/or therapeutic setting. If the participant satisfactorily completes the program, he or she is returned to the community to resume the remainder of their parole trial, bolstered by an appropriate aftercare af·ter·care
Follow-up care provided after a medical procedure or treatment program.


the care and treatment of a convalescent patient, especially one that has undergone surgery.
 plan developed by program staff and parole officers. If the offender leaves the program without permission or is discharged prior to satisfactory completion for non-compliance with the program, he or she is placed in custody and reinserted into the parole revocation process.

The implementation of the new diversion program is part of an ongoing paradigm shift A dramatic change in methodology or practice. It often refers to a major change in thinking and planning, which ultimately changes the way projects are implemented. For example, accessing applications and data from the Web instead of from local servers is a paradigm shift. See paradigm.  for the state parole board--away from the traditional punitive response to technical parole violations, to a more balanced approach incorporating both public safety and a treatment-oriented modality modality /mo·dal·i·ty/ (mo-dal´i-te)
1. a method of application of, or the employment of, any therapeutic agent, especially a physical agent.

. Recognizing the futility Futility
See also Despair, Frustration.

American Scene, The

portrays Americans as having secured necessities; now looking for amenities. [Am. Lit.: The American Scene]


performs the useless and supererogatory. [Fr.
 in returning a high rate of parole violators to the state prison system for technical violations, parole officers are now evaluating each case on its own merits, where the needs of the offender are weighed against the seriousness of the violations and his or her potential risk to the community. In the case of M.D., there was no history of violent offenses, so the perceived risk to the community in his case was considered minimal.

The Community Programs Unit offers four types of diversionary programs to the parolees it supervises. Criteria for assignment to a specific program depend on the therapeutic needs of the individual and the level of increased supervision desired by the agency.

Day Reporting Centers (DRC DRC Democratic Republic of Congo
DRC Down (Stage) Right Center
DRC Director(ate) of Reserve Components
DRC Disability Rights Commission (United Kingdom) 
). Nonresidential day programs offer a variety of substance abuse and job-skills programs to parolees as a graduated sanction alternative to incarceration. This is the least restrictive alternative and is not strictly limited to offenders who would otherwise be facing revocation. A large percentage of referrals to the DRC are parolees in need of substance abuse counseling, vocational or life-skills training. The state parole board is currently contracted with eight DRC facilities and has recently increased the number of program slots available, providing treatment for up to 75 parolees in each center. The parole board also hopes to add two additional DRC locations before the end of the year. Participants in this program are monitored daily by a parole officer assigned to act as a liaison to the facility. The purpose of this program is to allow parolees the opportunity to maintain normal family and community ties while getting the treatment and training they need to increase their chances of success.

Half-Way Back. This program involves contracted residential treatment facilities providing a more structured environment for higher-needs offenders in lieu of reincarceration. The program has a maximum stay of 180 days, and treatment is structured to the needs of the individual. Half-Way Back provides participants with a variety of counseling services, including substance abuse, anger management, job skills, academic assistance, and reentry planning and aftercare referrals to community providers. The state parole board currently contracts with five Half-Way Back facilities and can accommodate up to 630 parolees statewide.

Mutual Agreement Program. This is a highly structured program for offenders with psychiatric and behavioral problems related to long-term addiction. The Mutual Agreement Program is comprehensive in nature and is operated in partnership with the New Jersey DOC and the Department of Health. It has a reentry component in place in most counties statewide, where continuing aftercare and outpatient counseling are provided to program graduates. Many participants can be diverted to the Mutual Agreement Program at various stages during the parole revocation process as an alternative to reincarceration.

Re-entry RE-ENTRY, estates. The resuming or retaking possession of land which the party lately had.
     2. Ground rent deeds and leases frequently contain a clause authorizing the landlord to reenter on the non-payment of rent, or the breach of some covenant, when the
 Substance Abuse Program (RESAP RESAP Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development (United Nations, ESCAP) ). RESAP is a residential substance abuse treatment program for nonviolent offenders with a chronic history of substance abuse. Case study M.D. was placed in RESAP, which is geared toward parolees who have recently relapsed and is provided as an alternative to the traditional response of reincarceration. RESAP can last up to 180 days for those individuals in need of long-term treatment or those who have never been exposed to any significant prior treatment. RESAP includes assessment, individual and group counseling for drug and alcohol dependency, stress and anger management, family and life skills, and relapse prevention. RESAP has a core element of reentry discharge planning with a coordinated effort to continue treatment for the participant upon return to the community. At this time, the state parole board is contracting with three RESAP providers to provide this service to 150 parolees.

Looking to the Future

"What works" is not a new focus of criminal justice: instead, it is a rediscovery Noun 1. rediscovery - the act of discovering again
discovery, find, uncovering - the act of discovering something

rediscovery nredescubrimiento 
 and renewed commitment to rehabilitating the offender. This time the focus is better situated within the research findings on what works. One must not be absorbed with the notion that parole is getting soft on crime. The reasons for moving toward diversion, as they are based in research findings, include reducing recidivism, which, in turn, is a focus on the safety of the public. In being true to putting research into practice, the final step will require the parole board to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of the offender, while providing the agency with a cost-effective and desirable alternative to the reincarceration of nonviolent parolees.


(1) Sheldon, R.G. and W.B. Brown. 2003. Criminal justice in America: A critical view. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

(2) Belknap, J. 2001. The invisible women: Gender, crime and justice. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth.

(3) Glaser, D. 1964. The effectiveness of a prison and parole system. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

(4) Gottfredson, D.C. 2003. The effects of drug treatment and supervision on time to rearrest among drug treatment court participants. Journal of Drug Issues, 33(2):385-412.

(5) Lattimore P.K., N. Broner, R. Sherman, L. Frisman and M.S. Shafer. 2003. A comparison of prebooking and postbooking diversion programs for mentally ill substance-using individuals with justice involvement. Contemporary Journal of Criminal Justice, 19(1):30-64.

Richard Butler ''Richard Butler may refer to:

  • Richard Butler (general) (1743–1791), American Revolutionary War general, later killed fighting American Indians in Ohio
 is regional supervisor of the New Jersey State Parole Board. Venessa Garcia is Garcia I might refer to:
  • García I of Castile (d.995)
  • García I of León (d. 914)
  • García I of Pamplona (d. 870)
 an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Kean University Kean University (Pronounced KĀN or "cane") formerly Kean College of New Jersey, and previously Newark State Teachers College is a state university located in Union Township, Union County, New Jersey.  in Union, N.J.
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Author:Butler, Richard; Garcia, Venessa
Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Previous Article:Mental health programs: addressing the unfunded mandate.
Next Article:Corrections Today 2006 editorial calendar.

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