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Report of the Interagency Drug Offender Screening & Assessment Committee
The Status & Effectiveness of Drug Offender
Screening, Assessment, and Treatment

(.pdf or .doc, 66 pages)

Integrated Treatment System

Virginia’s goal in dealing with substance abusing offenders is to reduce criminal recidivism through an integrated system of treatment services and criminal justice sanctions.  The objectives of this integrated system are:

  • To establish a “seamless” relationship between criminal justice and treatment agencies;

  • To provide a continuum of services for the target offender population;

  • To use drug testing to monitor abstinence in treatment and criminal justice supervision; and,

  • To develop and implement graduated sanctions policies to increase compliance with the conditions of treatment.

A seamless system of substance abuse service delivery is essential if treatment services are to be effective.  A seamless system extends the length of treatment while adjusting the intensity of the services based on the progress of the offender.  This system provides effective treatment services in all domains of correctional control (e.g. probation, jail, prison, parole/post-release supervision) balanced by continued treatment in the community.

To help realize these objectives, SABRE builds on Virginia’s nationally recognized in-prison treatment programs by mandating treatment and graduated sanctions for first offenders, those with suspended sentences, and those being released from prison.  More importantly, SABRE providesincreased funding for these services.

Mandatory Drug Treatment for Offenders

In 1999, the General Assembly enacted legislation requiring that all adult and juvenile felons, as well as certain misdemeanants, undergo a substance abuse screening and, if necessary, a follow-up assessment, to identify an offender’s substance abuse problems and treatment needs.

SABRE builds on this by mandating that every first-time adult and juvenile drug offender undergo appropriate alcohol and drug testing and subsequent treatment based on the results of the screening and assessment.  In addition, those receiving a suspended sentence and those released from prison substance abuse programs are also mandated to receive treatment based on this tool.(§16.1-278.01, §16.1-278.8, §16.1-273, §18.2-251, §18.2-252, §18.2-251.01)  More than $14 million has been earmarked for this treatment component.

Residential Transitional Release

For those being released from prison, SABRE builds upon Virginia's nationally recognized in-prison treatment programs by developing a highly structured residential transitional release program. Adult offenders with substance abuse problems enter this program immediately prior to release from prison. To facilitate the process, legislation was approved for mandatory post-release supervision or active probation for all offenders being released from prison. (§19.2-295.2, §53.1-136, §53.1-157) 

For a minimum of six months, individuals undergo a gradual release process that includes employment, community service, and treatment in a highly structured residential therapeutic environment.  A high level of probation/parole supervision and peer support follows release from this program. Through a system of community imposed sanctions and penalties, as well as earned advancement of status and privileges as part of recovery, individuals are able to return to society, families, and jobs, no longer dependent upon drugs or alcohol. 

A network of these programs will be developed over the next 4 years to ensure that all offenders participating in our intensive in-prison substance abuse treatment programs are released in this manner.  Funding has been earmarked to establish up to 200 beds for the program by June, 2002.

Peer Support Programs 

Peer support groups are a community corrections initiative to support a successful transition from incarceration toward becoming a productive and law abiding member of the community.  Peer groups, both as an individual program and as a counterpart to residential transition programs, have been found to substantially reduce recidivism among drug offenders.  Funding has been provided to expand this component, as well as relapse prevention services, to areas where services are not currently available.

Program Management 

A management oversight system within each criminal justice agency has been established to ensure that a seamless system of substance abuse services will provide effective treatment services from the correctional domain to continued treatment in the community.  The system will ensure the overall quality and consistency of the services provided by state agencies in the SABRE treatment component.

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