SD30 - Court Services for Drug Offenders
Senate Joint Resolution 89 requested the Crime Commission to look at a number of issues related to the provision of substance abuse treatment services to offenders in community corrections. The Law Enforcement Subcommittee, chaired by Mr. Robert C. Bobb, met on June 7, July 26 and September 1, 1994, to receive information and develop recommendations to address the issues presented in SJR 89. The full Crime Commission received the report of the Law Enforcement Subcommittee on the SJR 89 study on December 13, 1994, adopted the report and its recommendations, and approved it for publication.
The issue of whether treatment really works to reduce recidivism, whether it is cost-effective, and which offenders would be best suited for community-based treatment was addressed by this study. Appendix B includes the report to the Commission from the Office of Substance Abuse Services that details the need for treatment, effectiveness data and related costs. Several independent studies of offenders who received appropriate substance abuse treatment revealed a decrease in crimes committed after treatment, and a decrease in the use of drugs.
While drug treatment cannot eliminate criminal recidivism, it can reduce the possibility of repeat offenses and increase the likelihood of offenders kicking the drug habit. Recommendation #1 encourages judges, prosecutors and community corrections officers to work cooperatively to place non-violent offenders, whenever appropriate and available, in community supervision and treatment as an alternative to incarceration.
One concern of the SJR 89 study was the use of regional facilities for the effective delivery of treatment services. Based on information brought to the Commission by the Office on Substance Abuse Services, services presently are being provided both regionally and locally, depending on the availability of resources. However, treatment providers, judges and community corrections officers have stressed during the course of this study that there are not nearly enough appropriate and affordable treatment services in the community in which to place offenders.
Recognizing the unavailability of state general funds to expand community treatment programs, Recommendation #2 encourages the Department of Corrections and the Office of Substance Abuse Services to prioritize funding requests for treatment programs, and to work cooperatively to seek federal grant funds to enhance treatment availability.
On December 12, 1994, Commission staff met with representatives from the Department of Corrections and the Office of Substance Abuse Services, along with the chairpersons of the State Judicial Education Committees, to discuss the need for technical assistance and training for judges concerning alternatives to incarceration and drug treatment for offenders. In support of this proposed training, Recommendation #3 requests that staff from the Department of Corrections, the Office of Substance Abuse Services, and the Virginia State Crime Commission make technical assistance and training on drug treatment for offenders and community corrections alternatives to incarceration available on request to the regional meetings of the circuit court judges.
1. The Virginia State Crime Commission supports the development of court-supervised community corrections placements for non-violent drug offenders in lieu of incarceration in a local or regional jail facility. Judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, law enforcement and community corrections officials are encouraged to work cooperatively to place non-violent drug offenders in need of substance abuse treatment in community corrections programs that promote treatment, education, job skills training and placement, and appropriate supervision as an alternative to incarceration.
2. Substance abuse treatment programs for offenders that provide counseling, drug education and drug testing must be comprehensive in their design and staffing, and must be adequately funded in order for community supervision to be successful. The Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services are encouraged to prioritize general fund requests for community supervision and treatment funds, and to work cooperatively to seek federal grant funds to further support these programs.
3. Staff from the Department of Corrections, the Office of Substance Abuse Services, and the Virginia State Crime Commission should make technical assistance and training on drug treatment for offenders and community corrections alternatives to incarceration available on request to the regional meetings of the circuit court judges.