Treatment Modality, Failure, and Re-Arrest: A Test of the Risk Principle With Substance-Abusing Criminal Defendants [2016]

Demographic, criminal history, instant case, treatment modality, program failure, and re-arrest data were collected from 400 New York City drug court participants. Actuarial risk scores were created for program failure and re-arrest by performing stepwise logistic regressions based on criminal history, present case, and demographic predictors of these outcomes. Placement in a residential (vs. outpatient) setting increased the likelihood of program failure and re-arrest after controlling for actuarial risk scores. Residential placement was particularly counter-productive with low-risk program participants, whose re-arrest rate was more than double that of low-risk participants placed in an outpatient setting. Conversely, placement of low-risk participants in the least restrictive treatment modality—a non-intensive outpatient setting—lowered the likelihood of re-arrest relative to placement either in a residential setting or an intensive outpatient program. Results are discussed in terms of the Risk-need-responsivity model of offender intervention, which recommends avoiding overly restrictive treatment of low-risk offenders.

Warren A. Reich, Sarah Picard-Fritsche, Michael Rempel, Erin J. Farley

Journal of Drug Issues, Vol 46, Issue 3, 2016