Intervening With Drug-Using Offenders: Lessons From Breaking the Cycle

Adele V. Harrell, The Urban Institute
Ojmarrh Mitchell, University of Maryland at College Park

ABSTRACT
The Breaking the Cycle Demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida; and Pierce County, Washington, were designed to test the feasibility and impact of appropriate drug interventions for drug using offenders under justice system supervision. BTC was based on research findings that court-supervised treatment for offenders through drug courts, community-based treatment administered by Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime (TASC) programs (see Belenko, 1999; Anglin, Longshore and Turner, 1999), in-prison treatment with aftercare, and specialized drug diversion programs can reduce offender drug use and crime. The goal of BTC was to reduce drug use and crime by making drug intervention strategies widely available by incorporating drug interventions into standard criminal justice operations. One of the first lessons learned was that the goal was too broad and all three sites early in program development chose to focus on defendants released to the community. Unlike drug courts, BTC targeted all defendants charged with a felony charge and did not limit the target population to defendants who were heavy or addicted users.

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Updated 05/20/2006