The Safety and Effectiveness of Diverting Felony Drug Offenders to Residential Treatment as Measured by Recidivism
AbstractThe Kings County District Attorney's Office (Brooklyn, New York) initiated the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison program (DTAP) to divert nonviolent, drug-addicted offenders who are prison bound to residential drug treatment. The goal of DTAP is to treat offenders in community-based facilities without endangering public safety and to decrease their recidivism following treatment. Official rearrest rates were examined for 487 comparable defendants. Of DTAP participants, 4% were rear-rested during treatment, whereas 13% of the nonparticipants were rearrested during the pretrial and sentence periods. Of DTAP completers, 23% were rearrested during the 3-year period following treatment completion, which was less than half the rate for DTAP failures and nonparticipants. The authors conclude that when appropriate screening and monitoring procedures are implemented, diverting drug felons to residential treatment is at least as safe as traditional prosecution and sentencing and that successful completion of treatment is much more effective in reducing recidivism than completion of traditional sentences.