Printer Friendly

Substance abuse diversion program earns high marks.

There is a growing awareness that incarcerating offenders with drug problems does not work and that there are other reasonable responses to drug abuse.

In a new book, The Making of a Drug Free America and Programs That Work, Mathea Falco makes the case that the "law enforcement only" strategy is expensive and ineffective. She argues for regaining balance in our approach to drug users by re-emphasizing education and treatment. Falco explores the effectiveness of community programs, ranging from anti-drug education and treatment to grass roots action against drug dealers.

Falco is not the only person promoting alternatives to incarceration. During an address to state legislators attending a Council of State Governments Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, in December, Jeffrey Tauber, a municipal court judge from Oakland, Calif., asked, "How can we afford to incarcerate people when we know we can do a better job in the community?"

Judge Tauber described the Oakland Drug Diversion Project, a program with statutory authority. Offenders are placed in the program after a diversionary hearing and remain in it for six months to two years. The program is nonresidential and, through contingency contracts, an offender's sentence can be ended if he or she completes the treatment program. This approach is used as an incentive to participate in the treatment regime.

The program is based on the idea that coercive treatment works and that progressive sanctions are appropriate mechanisms for dealing with drug abusers. Judge Tauber said the program's success depends on acknowledging the following:

* the realities of addiction;

* the need for relapse counseling as part of the program;

* the importance of reaching people when they are in crisis; and

* the need to achieve positive results to ensure the program's integrity.

Several important lessons have been learned from operating the program:

1. Information is essential to effectively monitor offenders.

2. The local community needs to determine program boundaries, which may differ from community to community.

3. Dealing with people in groups is as effective, if not more so, than dealing with them individually.

4. Both the offender and the supervisor should be held accountable for program goals.

In discussing the Oakland Drug Diversion Project's success, Judge Tauber said he feels this type of program benefits from being "judge-driven" for two reasons. First, judges are in a position to enforce participation and push for positive results. Second, the program's success depends heavily on judges' abilities to develop community coalitions and networks.

It is important to evaluate this program and all offender programs. We need evaluation methods that help us decide what is effective and what is not. In attempting to divide up the limited resources available for crime control, we need to be selective and maintain a balance between law enforcement and offender management. Evaluation results can help us make rational decisions in resource allocation.

Judge Tauber's optimistic presentation was well-received and served as a reminder that substance abuse education and treatment efforts can meet community and judicial acceptance. The Oakdale Project--which was awarded the National 1992 County-run Public Service Excellence Award by the Public Employees' Roundtable, a coalition of professional managerial and governmental associations--signals the acceptance of intermediate sanctions as a cost-effective way to manage offenders.

Donald G. Evans, assistant deputy minister of the Policing Services Division of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, Ontario, contributes this column to Corrections Today.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Probation and Parole Forum
Author:Evans, Donald G.
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Contemporary Community Corrections.
Next Article:Juvenile justice news.

Related Articles
In Wisconsin: alternative to revocation program offers offenders a second chance.
New attitudes toward corrections determine programs and policies.
Treatment initiatives.
NIC update.
From the institution to the community: studies show benefits of continuity of care in reduced recidivism, relapse rates.
Drug courts and jail-based treatment: jail setting poses unique opportunity to bridge gap between courts and treatment services.
Conviction for addiction: states are reconsidering whether no-nonsense drug policy should mean prison or treatment.
"Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice" new online journal.
Drug treatment: the Willard option.
Diversion of nonviolent substance abuse parolees: putting research into practice.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters