Home > The effectiveness of incarceration-based drug treatment on criminal behavior.

Mitchell, Ojmarrh and Wilson, David B and MacKenzie, Doris L [The Campbell Collaboration] . (2012) The effectiveness of incarceration-based drug treatment on criminal behavior. Oslo: The Campbell Collaboration. Campbell Systematic Reviews (8) 76 p. DOI 10.4073/csr.2006.11

URL: https://campbellcollaboration.org/library/effectiv...

Background - Many, if not most, incarcerated offenders have substance abuse problems. Without effective treatment, these substance-abusing offenders are likely to persist in non-drug offending. The period of incarceration offers an opportunity to intervene in the cycle of drug abuse and crime. Although many types of incarceration-based drug treatment programs are available (e.g., therapeutic communities and group counseling), the effectiveness of these programs is unclear.

Objectives - The objective of this research synthesis is to systematically review quasi-experimental and experimental (RCT) evaluations of the effectiveness of incarceration-based drug treatment programs in reducing post-release recidivism and drug relapse. A secondary objective of this synthesis is to examine variation in effectiveness by programmatic, sample, and methodological features. In this update of the original 2006 review (see Mitchell, Wilson, and MacKenzie, 2006), studies made available since the original review were included in an effort to keep current with emerging research.

Main results - Seventy-four evaluations met our eligibility criteria. The overall average effect of these programs was approximately a 15 to 17% reduction in recidivism and drug relapse. The effectiveness of such programs, however, varied by program type. Therapeutic communities had relatively consistent but modest reductions in recidivism and drug relapse. Counseling and narcotic maintenance programs had mixed effects. Specifically, counseling programs on average reduced recidivism but not drug relapse, narcotic maintenance programs had sizeable reductions in drug relapse but not recidivism, and boot camps had negligible effects on both recidivism and drug relapse.

Conclusions - This synthesis of evaluations of incarceration-based drug treatment programs found that such programs are modestly effective in reducing recidivism. These findings most strongly support the effectiveness of therapeutic communities, as these programs produced relatively consistent reductions in recidivism and drug use. Both counseling and incarceration-based narcotic maintenance programs had mixed effects. Counseling programs were associated with reductions in recidivism but not drug use; whereas, incarceration-based narcotic maintenance programs were associated with reductions in drug use but not recidivism. Note that our findings regarding the effectiveness of incarceration-based narcotic maintenance programs differ from a larger review of community-based narcotic maintenance programs (see Egli, Pina, Christensen, Aebi, and Killias, 2009). Finally, boot camp programs for drug offenders had negligible effects on both recidivism and drug use.


Item Type:Evidence resource
Publication Type:Review
Drug Type:Alcohol or other drugs in general
Intervention Type:Crime prevention
Source:The Campbell Collaboration
Date:2012
Pages:76 p.
Publisher:The Campbell Collaboration
Place of Publication:Oslo
Number:8
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Related URLs:
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Court system > Drug court
MM-MO Crime and law > Law enforcement and the justice system
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime prevention
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime > Substance related crime
MM-MO Crime and law > Criminal penalty
L Social psychology and related concepts > Mode of participation > Involuntary (mandatory) participation

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