Acta Psychopathologica Open Access

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The Moderating Relationship of Comorbid Psychopathology and Treatment Outcome for Young Adult Offenders in Drug Court

Patric T

Since its inception, the American criminal justice system has focused on punishing offenders to deter and prevent criminal activity. In 2013, about 2 million American citizens were incarcerated—approximately 716 people per 100,000. Contrary to expectations, incarceration has been consistently demonstrated as widely ineffective for preventing recidivism[3–5]. In particular, offenders with substance abuse issues have become a growing concern within the criminal justice system. Mandatory minimums on drug offenses, combined with the rigorous conviction of non-violent drug offenders, have fueled an extraordinary amount of incarcerated offenders with addictions[6]; Offenders struggling with addictions are about 82% more likely to recidivate than non-addicted offenders upon release[3]. Without adequate substance abuse and mental health services, offenders with addictions are at a higher risk of recidivism upon release into the community. Adult drug court is a problem-solving court created to divert offenders with substance abuse issues from incarceration by focusing predominately on rehabilitation. The drug court system is a collaborative effort between court personnel (e.g. judges, drug court specialists, state attorneys, and public defenders), treatment providers, independent evaluators, and offenders to eliminate addictions. Eligible drug offenders are given the option to participate in drug court; upon agreement, clients are mandated to complete a rigorous and intensive treatment regimen combined with ongoing random drug testing and scheduled court appearances. Contingent upon their completion of treatment, the drug court will dismiss their charges and oftentimes expunge their criminal record. If an offender fails to complete treatment, commits an additional crime or consistently fails drug tests, the individual is convicted and sentenced thereafter.