Methods: The data in this study were from an administrative database provided by the State Department of Corrections including all persons on probation/parole from 2018-2019. From this total population, a propensity score matched sample was established, resulting in 637 DRC participants and 638 individuals who were under traditional probation or parole community supervision (non-DRC participants) (N=1,275). Criminal risk, mental health needs, and motivation to change were assessed through three scales based on Bonta and Andrews’ (2007) risk/needs/responsivity (RNR) model. Also measured were a dichotomous indicator of prior prison/incarceration, prior convictions, and a categorical measure of the top charge which an individual was convicted (substance use-related, non-violent offense, sex crime, or violent crime). Data also included sociodemographic measures. This study was reviewed and approved by the lead author’s university IRB.
Results: Bivariate analyses showed non-significant differences between DRC and non-DRC participants among the indicators used for propensity score matching (age, gender, race/ethnicity, prior conviction and prior prison sentences). The matched sample was mostly male (67.4%), White (65.4%), and with an average age of about 34 years. Comparing the two groups, DRC participants showed significantly higher criminal risk, t(1,273) = 4.69, p < .05, higher substance use needs, t(1,273) = 53.9, p < .01, and higher motivation to change t(1,273) = 26.89, p < .01. DRC participants (57%) were also more likely to have a substance use related conviction compared to non-DRC participants (55%), X2 (3, 1,273) = 15.7, p < .01.
Conclusions: Our results show that by a significant margin, DRC participants are selected according to established criteria. When individuals are admitted for DRC participation in this way, evidence suggests they have a higher likelihood of success while in the program to abstain from substance use and eventually complete community supervision sentencing. These results assist social workers in criminal justice settings by offering evidence that DRC selection processes are done with general fidelity to established criteria and re-affirms that selection for DRC participation should be made based on eligibility assessment in the areas of criminal risk, substance use and motivation. Additional research should examine the validity of eligibility measures used for DRC participation, as well as examine DRC outcomes based on initial eligibility screening measures associated with criminal risk, substance use, and motivation.