Drug use among parolees and probationers is still very likely to happen although hundreds of programs of drug control exist throughout the United States. Nevertheless, many probationers experience drug abuse even when they are aware of the consequences of it. The drug war in Montgomery, AL has continued for several decades, yet, not everyone is happy with its outcomes. It still demands extra spending and costs a lot for the government (Rubin, 2013).
The current discourse suggests that drug use needs to be treated (such opinions were provided by some members of the City Council in Montgomery), but there are alternatives that can be implemented too. Moreover, Virginia Estates is a poor neighborhood in Montgomery that cannot afford expensive treatments of drug abusers and parolees who prefer to find drugs as soon as they are out of the prison.
Continued drug abuse can affect the probation’s outcomes and essentially result in crime recidivism. Yet, random drug testing is believed to be one of the most successful tools in preventing drug abuse (Walters, 2014). The main aim of this program is to introduce a strategy that would help prevent drug abuse in probationers. The following plan is based on the Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program.
It focuses on the results of the HOPE program that had been implemented from the years 2004 to 2009; frequent random drug tests were used to control the probationers’ drug use. If probationers failed the drug test, they were arrested and sentenced to a short prison stay. Other reintegration means for probationers such as mentoring and education can be used in addition to random drug tests to ensure that participants are not motivated only by the possible sanctions and penalties.
The program can influence work efficiency of parole officers, judges, and defense lawyers. Its financing is an important task for a local government as it guarantees the improvement of the situation (Cheng, 2008). Moreover, it will also influence the crime rates in the community and reduce crimes connected to drugs if probationers follow the prescriptions and demands of the program correctly.
The drug use rates were stated to be extremely high in Montgomery, AL; Virginia Estates, as it is a poor neighborhood that has to face poverty, is also struggling with the problem of drug abuse. Crime rates are fueled by the poverty and drug use, so Montgomery police department and Montgomery City Council need to suggest new ideas and solutions to prevent the spreading of drugs.
Statement of Need
Bureau of Justice Statistics had conducted a long-term research that investigated the number of crimes committed by the offenders before or during the period when they were supervised by the community. The range of discussed crimes is wide, but it also includes drug use and similar crimes as drug possession, drug trafficking, unauthorized drug prescriptions, and others (Markman, Durose, Rantala, & Tiedt, 2016). According to the research, 0,31% of crimes, committed during the first five years after the release, involved a certain type of drug abuse: 0.16% were arrested for drug possession, 0.23% for drug trafficking, and 0.17% for other types of drug-related crimes (Markman et al., 2016).
Two in five of all sexual assaults towards college students were committed by an offender who was supposedly on drugs (Bureau of Justice Statistics, n.d.). In Montgomery situation is similar and a great number of crimes are committed by people who are affected by drugs. The national survey conducted in 1994 states that fourteen percent of probationers used drugs when they committed their first crime after the release (Bureau of Justice Statistics, n.d.). Thus, although drug treatment and drug control are implemented in different programs in all states, it is still a significant problem to prevent drug abuse in probationers. As to Montgomery, AL, ‘Operation Pilluted’ was implemented in 2012; it covered other states, too, but had an impact on Montgomery neighborhoods where crime rates were noticed to decrease.
Zero Addiction campaign was also implemented to address the problem of drug abuse in Alabama, especially pain relievers since the sale rates of those are extremely high. In April 2015, Montgomery Director of Public Safety discussed the problems connected to the widespread drug ‘Spice.’ The HOPE program focuses on reducing drug use; moreover, only those probationers who were confirmed to use drugs are mandated to drug treatment. This information can be provided both by the Montgomery police department and Council On Substance Abuse-NCADD. To reduce drug use in probationers and probability of a new crime, the approach to drug testing needs to be changed.
The program tries to reduce drug use in probationers, or at least prevent the drug abuse during the probation. As the authors state, only persistent sanctions for every drug use and positive results from drug tests are able to reduce drug abuse in probationers because each time the violation is noticed, probationers are sentenced for short prison stays (Hawken & Kleiman, 2009). However, if the amount of drug use increases and several drug tests in a row prove that the probationer was under the influence of drugs during that period, the stays in jail become longer with every detected violation. Moreover, no regular meetings with the judge are required, so the program also allows decreasing the costs, but it remains effective nevertheless.
Mentoring of the probationers’ successes, engagement in community and program will also help understand the reasons behind recidivism, as well as indicate what other issues need to be addressed.
The program can be considered as valuable for probation officers and community workers who have to face drug use from probationers and other violations quite frequently. Montgomery Municipal Court can also take part in the program, and, if it is implemented successfully, evaluate the outcomes; however, court employees might perceive the new program negatively because they will have to complete additional tasks and commissions that might show insignificant results (Hawken & Kleiman, 2009).
The probationers themselves might also be interested in the new program, although its methods can also be perceived as too severe; however, if they are indeed aspiring to become non-marginalized members of society, this program can lead them to better reintegration if all rules are followed precisely.
Montgomery police department, as well as parole and probation officers, will also have an opportunity to assess the program; in case of correct implementation of the program, the crime levels in the neighborhood will decrease, and police workers will be able to focus on other cases, not on the probation workers. Thus, the program will supposedly reduce crime rates in the community and allow probationers avoid recidivism.
The HOPE probation program was used as a basis for the suggested program, so it is necessary to evaluate its success. The authors have provided the survey results that indicate which stakeholders perceived the program positively and which stakeholders stressed the program was not proven to be successful. This data can serve as supporting documentation for implementation of the program. The surveys’ results can be found in the document submitted by Angela Hawken and Mark Kleiman.
To gain valid results that will be suitable for a thorough analysis, the program should function for at least three or six months; moreover, prior to the implementation of the program, several months will be needed to find qualified employees and calculate overheads.
The proposed program can significantly increase the crime rate and drug abuse in Virginia Estates, Montgomery, AL; moreover, it will help the probationers avoid recidivism and focus on reintegration in society. Probation officers will receive an opportunity to control drug use in probationers more efficiently and award penalties if needed.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. (n.d.). Drugs and crime facts. Web.
Cheng, G. (2008). Budget tools: financial methods in the public sector. New York: CQ Press.
Hawken, A., & Kleiman, M. (2009). Managing drug involved probationers with swift and certain sanctions: Evaluating Hawaii’s HOPE: Executive summary. Web.
Markman, J., Durose, M., Rantala, R., & Tiedt, A. (2016). Recidivism of offenders placed on federal community supervision in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010. Web.
Rubin, I. (2013). The politics of public budgeting: getting and spending, borrowing and balancing. New York: CQ Press.
Walters, G. D. (2014). Drugs, crime, and their relationships. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.