To Treat or Not to Treat

Research Report

To Treat or Not to Treat

Evidence on the Prospects of Expanding Treatment to Drug-Involved Offenders


Despite a growing consensus among scholars that substance abuse treatment is effective in reducing recidivism, strict eligibility rules have limited the impact of current models of therapeutic jurisprudence on public safety. This research effort was aimed at providing policy makers some guidance on whether expanding this model to more drug-involved offenders is cost-beneficial. We find that roughly 1.5 million arrestees who are probably guilty (the population most likely to participate in court monitored substance abuse treatment) are currently at risk of drug dependence or abuse and that several million crimes could be averted if current eligibility limitations were suspended and all at-risk arrestees were treated.

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