Closing the Revolving Door? Substance Abuse Treatment as an Alternative to Traditional Sentencing for Drug-Dependent Offenders

Tara D. Warner, John H. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


The criminal justice system is often viewed as a revolving door for drug-dependent offenders due to its failure to recognize the association between addiction and offending, and repeated incarceration of drug-dependent offenders has contributed to prison overcrowding. The authors evaluated the effectiveness of Pennsylvania's drug and alcohol treatment-based intermediate punishment, Restrictive Intermediate Punishments (RIP/D&A), at reducing the risk of rearrest. Rearrest was compared at 12, 24, and 36 months postrelease. Offenders who successfully completed treatment had a lower risk of rearrest than traditionally sentenced offenders in general and county jail and probation offenders specifically. However, offenders sentenced to RIP/D&A who did not successfully complete treatment were more at risk for rearrest than traditionally sentenced offenders in general. Also, offenders sentenced to state incarceration had a lower risk of rearrest than RIP/D&A participants, regardless of program completion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-109
Number of pages21
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009



  • drug treatment
  • intermediate punishments
  • recidivism
  • sentencing guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology(all)
  • Law

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