HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Inmate Drug Rehab Key To Less Crime
Pubdate: Tue, 25 Jul 2006
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2006 Newsday Inc.
Author: Jamie Talan, Newsday Staff Writer


Federal drug officials published a report yesterday showing that 
treatment for drug addiction in the criminal justice system is key to 
reducing the prison population and keeping the nation's streets safer.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 
said that many people in the system are there because of drugs - 
either using, selling or committing crimes to get money to buy drugs. 
Experts used to think that treatment worked only if a person was 
ready to accept help, but new treatment studies on prisoners suggest 
this captive population can benefit from treatment - even if they 
don't want it.

"Treatment works," said Volkow, whose agency just published the first 
guidelines on treating drug abuse in the criminal justice system. 
"This is an extraordinary opportunity to help these people and to 
decrease crime. They need access to treatment. This is a no-brainer."

Volkow said that about 70 percent of those in the criminal justice 
system qualify for treatment for drug abuse, yet only 20 percent 
actually receive it.

The drug institute has funded research to evaluate treatment programs 
in jails and in the decade-old drug court system that has made it 
possible for some people to avoid prison with treatment. "We've had a 
real laboratory in which to understand the principles that relate to 
success in treatment," Volkow said.

Dr. Herbert Kleber, director of the division on substance abuse at 
Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, 
said the key to any successful program is to make sure treatment 
continues once a person leaves the system. A growing number of 
prisons have therapeutic communities, but having programs in place 
when someone is ready to leave reduces the likelihood they will 
commit another crime, Kleber said.

Studies have shown more than half of people arrested were under the 
influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime. The 
institute's report makes it clear drug addiction is a brain disease, 
involving the areas that govern social judgments and impulsivity.

The report calls for proper assessment of drug problems, tailored 
services, treatments that last long enough to produce behavioral 
changes, ongoing care when re-entering the community, and medications.

Mental health officials in New York City are about to start a program 
at Rikers Island for criminals who are addicted to opiates. Doctors 
there will be prescribing buprenorphine, a long-acting medication for 
opiate addiction, and prisoners can continue treatment once they 
leave the system.

The institute study "hits all the right notes," said Justin Barry, 
the drug court coordinator for the New York City Criminal Court 
system. To change drug-abusing offenders' behavior, he said, "we need 
to treat them as long as possible."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman