Effect of Continuing Care for People with Cocaine Dependence on Criminal Justice Sentences

ABSTRACT [FROM JOURNAL]

While continuing care for substance use treatment has been associated with reduced involvement in the criminal justice system, much of this research lacks random assignment to continuing care and so is limited by self‐selection bias. This study sought to determine the impact of adding telephone‐based continuing care to intensive outpatient programs on criminal justice outcomes for people with cocaine dependence. In three continuing care studies, spanning 1998–2008, participants were randomly assigned to an intensive outpatient program or an intensive outpatient program plus a telephone‐based continuing care intervention. Cocaine‐dependent participants from these three studies were included in the analyses, with outcomes derived from a dataset of jurisdiction‐wide criminal sentences from a state sentencing agency. Multiple logistic regression was employed to examine the odds of a criminal conviction occurring in the 4 years after enrollment in a continuing care study. The results showed that, controlling for a criminal sentence in the previous year, gender, age, and continuing care study, people with cocaine dependence randomized to an intensive outpatient program plus a telephone‐based continuing care intervention had 54% lower odds (p = 0.05, odds ratio = 0.46, 95% CI: 0.20–1.02) of a criminal sentence in the 4 years after enrollment in the continuing care study, compared with those randomized to an intensive outpatient program alone. We can conclude that adding telephone monitoring and counseling to intensive outpatient programs is associated with fewer criminal convictions over a 4‐year follow‐up period compared with intensive outpatient programs alone.