. "Appendix E: Linking Treatment to Punishment: An Evaluation of Drug Treatment in the Criminal Justice System." Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don't Know Keeps Hurting Us. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.
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Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us
high risk of being punished for repeated drug relapses, in light of their ongoing involvement in the TASC program. This could have easily made them more reluctant to report. In other words, when respondents are asked to report on their drug use in a setting in which they are being heavily monitored and reports of drug use can lead to punishment, the potential for underreporting is quite substantial (Harrison, 1997). This makes it difficult to know what to make of the significant declines in drug use reported by the TASC subjects.
Despite the questionable nature of these two studies on TASC, this research did demonstrate that the program could induce drug users to stay in treatment longer than voluntary clients. This led to renewed interest in the use of punishment or threats of punishment to induce drug users to remain in treatment. With recent increases in the number of drug users brought before the courts, this notion that client recovery is more likely to occur when punishment is linked to treatment is once again a matter of some importance.
Linking treatment to punishment is an issue that is once again garnering some attention as there has been a near tripling of drug arrests in the last 20 years (Flanagan and McLeod, 1983; Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999). Nearly 80 percent of drug arrests are for possession, and half of current possession arrests involve those caught with small amounts of marijuana. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the courts became overwhelmed by this huge influx of new drug cases, and some judges began to look for a solution in the form of drug courts. The first drug court was established in Florida in 1989 and, since that time, there has been a rapid expansion in the number of jurisdictions with these courts (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1997; Belenko, 1998). Like TASC, drug courts aim to combine treatment and punishment in an effort to speed client recovery.
Judges were motivated to urge the development of drug courts since they were seeing the same people over and over as they were returned to court for their repeated relapses for drug use or for their rearrests for recurring criminal acts potentially caused by drug use. It was also clear that punishment alone had failed to stop these drug relapses or criminal recidivism, and so there was a renewed emphasis on linking the courts to treatment (Belenko, 1998). The hope was that if the courts required drug offenders to enter and remain in treatment, many would be rehabilitated. If their drug use and their drug-related criminal behavior could be stopped or reduced, they would cease to be a burden on the courts. Moreover, if drug courts could mandate treatment that brought about such positive outcomes, then they could also reduce jail and prison overcrowd-