FAQs: Offender Drug Testing and Treatment
Illegal Substance Abuse, Drug Testing and Treatment
- Will CSOSA help me get drug treatment?
- How many CSOSA offenders have substance abuse issues?
- How does CSOSA determine who should be subject to drug testing?
- How many offenders has CSOSA drug tested?
- How much contract treatment funding does CSOSA have?
- How many defendants and offenders have been placed in contract treatment programs?
- Has the increase in drug testing and treatment been effective?
While CSOSA has significant substance abuse treatment resources, CSOSA does not have sufficient resources to provide "treatment on demand." Treatment resources are focused on the highest-risk, highest-need individuals. CSOSA works with the District government to place appropriate individuals in city-funded treatment as slots are available.
It is estimated that nearly 75 percent of the District of Columbia's offender population has a history of substance abuse. The connection between drug abuse and crime has been well established. Long-term success in reducing recidivism among drug-abusing offenders depends upon two key factors:
- Identifying and treating drug use and other social problems among the defendant and offender population; and
- Establishing swift and certain consequences for violations of release conditions.
Offenders access treatment in several different ways:
- By testing positive for drug use, which usually results in referral for assessment and possible treatment placement;
- By talking with the Community Supervision Officer and requesting referral for treatment;
- By having a condition for substance abuse treatment imposed by the U.S. Parole Commission or D.C. Superior Court;
- By completing the pre-treatment program in CSOSA's Assessment and Orientation Center and being discharged to continue treatment.
The treatment process begins with assessment by CSOSA's Treatment Management Team (TMT). The TMT Treatment Specialists manage the treatment process by:
- Conducting assessments and formulating treatment recommendations;
- Facilitating pre-treatment, substance abuse education, anger management and sanctions group programs; and
- Monitoring individual progress once the offender begins treatment with a CSOSA-funded provider.
The CSOSA substance abuse treatment continuum includes the following programs:
- 7-Day Medically Monitored Detoxification
- 28-Day Intensive Residential Treatment
- 90- to 120-Day Residential Treatment
- 120-Day Residential Treatment and Transitional Housing for Women with Children
- 120 to 180-Day Residential Treatment for Dually Diagnosed Offenders (mental health and substance abuse)
- 90-Day Supervised Transitional Housing
- Intensive Outpatient and Outpatient Treatment
After the individual completes treatment, he or she is generally assigned to an aftercare support group. CSOSA's Treatment Specialists facilitate these groups to ensure that the offender continues to establish a healthy, drug-free life.
National and CSOSA research supports the conclusion that treatment significantly reduces drug use. Not only can treatment reduce drug use and criminal behavior, it can also improve the prospects for employment. [Back]
Approximately 70 percent of CSOSA offenders have a history of substance abuse. In FY 2008, 59.0 percent of offenders entering CSOSA supervision had been arrested for a drug related offense (excluding alcohol). In FY 2008, 52.3 percent of offenders under CSOSA supervision tested had at least one positive drug test (including alcohol). [Back]
By policy, drug testing is conducted on all offenders placed on CSOSA supervision by the Courts and the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC), as well as offenders for whom CSOSA is completing a pre-sentence investigation. Surveillance drug testing is primarily intended to enforce the release condition of abstinence and identify offenders in need of treatment services. Substance abuse is a major factor in supervision failure. Through aggressive surveillance testing, CSOSA can identify and intervene—through sanctions and/or treatment placement—in the offender's drug use before it escalates to the point of revocation. CSOSA maintains a zero tolerance of drug use. All offenders are placed on a drug testing schedule, with frequency of testing dependent upon prior substance abuse history, supervision risk level, and length of time under CSOSA supervision. In addition, all offenders are subject to random spot testing at any time. [Back]
During FY 2008, CSOSA tested an average of 8,512 offenders per month for drug use. This represents a 267 percent increase over the number of offenders tested in FY 1999. In addition to testing more offenders, CSOSA is testing the offenders more often. The number of samples tested per offender per month increased from 1.9 in FY 1999 to 3.7 in FY 2008.
In FY 2009, CSOSA had $15,478,000 in appropriated contract treatment funding: $12,119,000 for general population offenders and an additional $3,359,000 for offenders/defendants who are placed in the Re-Entry and Sanctions Center. These funds are used for contract costs related to substance abuse inpatient and outpatient treatment, and transitional (including re-entrant) housing; in addition, general population funds are used for the contract halfway back sanctions program. FY 2009 appropriated treatment funding reflects a $1,000,000 program increase for re-entrant housing. CSOSA also uses High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) grant funding issued to CSOSA from the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA (Office of National Drug Control Policy) to support contract treatment for offenders meeting HIDTA criteria. [Back]
In FY 2008, CSOSA made 2,247 contract substance abuse treatment placements, 402 transitional housing placements and 213 halfway back sanction placements. In addition, at any given time, up to 1,200 offenders are participating in CSOSA in-house substance abuse treatment or treatment readiness programming. Typically, an offender who has serious substance abuse issues requires a treatment program continuum consisting of three separate substance abuse treatment placements (in-house or contract) to fully address his or her issues. CSOSA has established contract substance use treatment, transitional (re-entrant) housing and halfway back sanctions capacity specifically for female offenders. [Back]
Indications are that the increase in drug testing and treatment is having a positive effect among CSOSA's supervised population. A study by the Institute for Behavior and Health found that CSOSA offenders and defendants who participated in the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA drug treatment program were less likely to commit crimes.
In calendar year 2002, the overall arrest rate for participants in the entire Washington/Baltimore HIDTA drug treatment program dropped 48.6 percent from 867 arrests in the one year period before HIDTA treatment to 446 in the one year after treatment. Participants in CSOSA's Assessment and Orientation Center, a program within the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA, experienced a 67.1 percent decrease in rearrests, from 85 in the one year prior to treatment to 28 one year after treatment. In calendar year 2003, the overall arrest rate for participants in the entire Washington/Baltimore HIDTA drug treatment program dropped 42.9 percent from 608 arrests in the one year period before HIDTA treatment to 347 in the one year after treatment. CSOSA participants experienced a 14.3 percent decrease in rearrests, from 28 in the one year prior to treatment to 24 one year after treatment.
Offender drug treatment effectiveness studies performed by CSOSA show promising results. The studies provide preliminary indication of the short-term (90 and 180 days post-treatment) effect of treatment on persistent drug use (testing positive 3 or more times) patterns. The studies indicate that drug use persistence decreased more among offenders who completed the treatment program when compared with those who failed to complete the prescribed treatment. Specifically, the number of persistent drug users decreased 78 percent for offenders who completed treatment and 43 percent for treatment drop-outs within 90 days post-treatment. Using available data for offenders who were under CSOSA supervision 180 days post-treatment, the number of persistent drug users decreased 70 percent for offenders who completed treatment and 64 percent for treatment drop-outs. Further analysis is required to determine if the closing of the persistent drug use gap is at least partially attributable to timely and appropriate aftercare support or to other pre-identified factors about treatment participants that may influence treatment continuum decisions. [Back]