Self Reported Drug Use: An Investigation Into a Pre-Trial Diversion Program in the City of New Orleans

Wendy L. Hicks, Loyola University in New Orleans

As arrests for drug offenses in urban areas continues to increase it has become painfully obvious that some court dockets and correctional facilities have become congested to the point of utter blockage. One possible remedy to these ailments was developed by the City of New Orleans' Office of the District Attorney in the form of a Pretrial Diversion Program for non-violent, first-time drug offenders. One difficulty of such a diversion program centers upon the necessity of making certain participants abide by the program requirements. One such task placed on program staff is detecting drug use by program clients. Hair RIA, combined with urinalysis, has proven successful in detecting many instances of drug use by participants. However, the staff of such a program would be aided considerably by having at their disposal a model of the characteristics of an individual who would be likely to be less than truthful regarding self-reported drug use. Using data collected on program participants in the City of New Orleans, the researcher has developed a model of the type of program participant deemed most likely to falsify self-reports of drug use. In addition, the researcher has also shed some light on the possibilities posed by the introduction of ion mobility spectrometer technology in regard to drug use detection.

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Updated 05/20/2006