Evaluation of the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison | CASAColumbia

Crossing the Bridge: An Evaluation of the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) Program

Crossing the Bridge: An Evaluation of the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) Program

Published: March 2003

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Research shows a strong connection between substance use and incarceration. This report examines a specific drug treatment alternative-to-prison program in Brooklyn, New York.


CASAColumbia, with other partners, conducted a 5-year evaluation of the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) program in Brooklyn, New York, to evaluate the effectiveness of this residential drug treatment program for repeat felony offenders when compared to the alternative of incarceration.


Findings to date from CASAColumbia’s evaluation of DTAP are encouraging. Prison alternatives are important. Criminal justice programs can divert into long-term residential treatment high-risk, serious felony offenders, including drug sellers, who would otherwise have been incarcerated, while holding them accountable for their crimes. Evidence accumulated thus far has demonstrated that this approach yields high treatment-retention rates, improves employment, diminishes recidivism and reduces costs.

Drug-addicted, nonviolent felony offenders with 5 prior drug arrests and an average of 4 years behind bars achieved significantly lower recidivism rates and higher employment rates through the DTAP program than comparable offenders who were sent to prison. The evaluation found that participants who completed the DTAP program and graduated were 33% less likely to be rearrested, 45% less likely to be reconvicted and 87% less likely to return to prison than the comparable prison group.

DTAP graduates were 3.5 times more likely to be employed after graduation than before their arrest. Before their arrest, 26% were working either part-time or full-time. Following successful completion of the program, 92% had found employment. DTAP participants remained in treatment 6 times longer than individuals in other long-term residential treatment programs.


In their efforts to reduce crime and drug use, state and local corrections agencies, courts and prosecutors across the nation should consider this type of program as a possible cost-effective alternative to incarceration.

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