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NCJ Number: 197504 
Title: Opportunities and Barriers in Probation Reform: A Case Study of Drug Testing and Sanctions
Author(s): Mark A. R. Kleiman; Thomas H. Tran; Paul Fishbein; Maria-Teresa Magula; Warren Allen; Gareth Lacy
Corporate Author: California Policy Research Ctr
United States of America
Date Published: June 2002
Page Count: 4
Sponsoring Agency: California Policy Research Ctr
Berkeley, CA 94704-1182
Sale Source: California Policy Research Ctr
University of California
1950 Addison Street, Suite 202
Berkeley, CA 94704-1182
United States of America
Type: Case Study
Format: Brochure/Pamphlet
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This document discusses drug testing and sanctions among probationers and presents case studies.
Abstract: The combination of drug testing and sanctions, called coerced abstinence, is much cheaper than drug treatment. Their use opens treatment slots for those that want help for their drug problems, rather than having help forced upon them. Coerced abstinence avoids the problems of managing treatment compliance, and imposing drug treatment on offenders that do not meet the clinical criteria defining drug abuse or dependence. Three case studies of California probation departments in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Cruz illustrate the problem of illicit drug use among clients. In all three counties, of those ordered to report for testing on any given day, 3 in 10 or more either failed to appear at all or were found to have been using one or more illicit drugs. The high rates on noncompliance were both a result and one of the causes of inconsistencies and delays in the sanctions process. Frequent testing is essential to reducing the rate of drug consumption. Drug-testing an offender twice a week leaves almost no opportunity for undetected drug use. Combining that with consistent sanctions for every failure to appear and every instance of detected drug use should be adequate to lower the rate of noncompliance. Falling noncompliance rates would shrink the resources required to process violations, which are the bulk of the costs involved. Predictable sanctioning requires consistency by both probation departments and the courts. The first step toward swift sanctioning is quick turnaround test results. Swift sanctioning also depends on the courts’ willingness to act promptly on reported violations. A major barrier to consistency is the distinction made between cannabis and other drugs. Because cannabis has a long chemical detection window and is used widely, it tends to make up a large proportion of positive test results, but its link to recidivism and to violent drug dealing is far weaker than for harder drugs. Recommendations include concentrating existing resources to create a credible program, having lower-salaried employees perform drug tests, and automating the process of reporting drug-test violations to the court.
Main Term(s): Probation violations; Probationer substance abuse
Index Term(s): Controlled Substances; Drug analysis; Drug testing; Forensic medicine; Pretrial drug testing; Urinalysis
Note: CPRC Brief, Vol. 14, No. 4, June 2002.
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