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Release date: 30 July 2010
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The NSW Compulsory Drug Treatment Program (CDTP) has had a positive effect on the physical and mental health of offenders who enter it, according to new research released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
The CDTP began in August 2006 and operates as a five-stage post-sentencing program. Drug treatment and rehabilitation is provided in Stages 1-3 primarily from the Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre (CDTCC), followed by Stage 4 (parole) and Stage 5 (voluntary case management) in the community where appropriate.
Stage 1 involves closed detention at the CDTCC. This stage aims to stabilise participants and to address physical and mental health needs, while providing adult education, work readiness and skills programs, and therapeutic programs that target dynamic risk factors for drug-related offending.
In Stage 2 participants are permitted to leave the CDTCC to attend employment, training and approved social activities. Stage 2 involves programs designed to maintain positive behaviour change and assist in effective re-integration into the community. In Stage 3, participants reside outside of the CDTCC but under intensive supervision from CDTCC staff.
To evaluate the program, the Bureau conducted face-to-face interviews with CDTP participants. Baseline interviews were conducted with 95 participants soon after commencement of their time on the program. Three follow-up interviews were conducted as close to the time that participants finished Stages 1, 2 and 3, as was practicable.
Approximately 41 per cent of the baseline sample (39 participants) had completed Stages 1 and 2 by the time data collection ceased and participated in two follow-up interviews (end of Stages 1 and 2). Due to the small number of participants who had completed Stage 3, changes from baseline through to the end of Stage 3 were not able to be investigated.
The evaluation also included analysis of the regular urine samples provided by CDTP participants as a condition of entry onto the program.
The physical and mental health of participants improved from baseline to Stage 2.
The vast majority (95.7%) of drug tests conducted during the study were classified as 'non-prescribed drug free', with only small proportions classified as 'positive' (1.8%, n = 257 tests).
Of the 257 positive tests, 82.5 per cent (n = 212) were due to the detection of non-prescribed drugs. The majority (61.1%) of participants (n = 66), however, returned at least one positive test result.
Of the 66 participants with at least one positive test, 39.4 per cent (n = 26) were due to very dilute urines or involved refusal or failure to supply samples. About a third (34.8%, n = 23) involved non-prescribed morphine and another third (33.3%, n = 22) involved cannabis.
A greater proportion of drug tests conducted in Stage 3 (4.5%, n=40) returned 'positive' results than in Stage 1 (1.3%, n=91) or Stage 2 (1.8%, 126). In Stage 1, cannabis and buprenorphine were the most commonly detected non-prescribed drugs (36.3% and 16.5% respectively).
In Stage 2, morphine (27.8%) was the most commonly detected drug, followed by failure or refusal to supply a sample or returning a very dilute sample (23.0%). In Stage 3, morphine (35.0%) and buprenorphine (30.0%) were the most commonly detected drugs.
There was a downward trend in the proportion of participants who felt 'sure' that they needed help to keep from relapsing to drug use over the program, although this only reached significance between baseline and the end of Stage 2 (n = 39).
A downward trend in the proportion of participants who felt 'sure' that they needed help to keep from taking part in further criminal acts or behaviour was also apparent; this trend was only significant from baseline to the end of Stage 2 (n = 39).
The vast majority of participants were 'sure' they wanted to attend the program, 'sure' that the CDTP would be helpful to them and satisfied with most aspects of the CDTP.
The programmatic aspects that the majority of participants did not like were the number of drug tests, non-contact 'box' visits (visits where the offender and the visitor cannot make contact with one another) and the possibility of being regressed from a later stage to an earlier stage (e.g. for non-admitted drug use).
When asked for open-ended comments about the program, participants were largely positive about the program, although some participants made negative comments and suggestions for change regarding box visits, sanctions and employment.
Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 0419-494-408