SEPTEMBER 11, 2013

Arizona’s first Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison program delivers substantial cost saving results

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TUCSON – A report released by the Pima County Attorney’s Office shows the Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP) program resulted in cost savings of more than $1 million in the first 30 months of the program’s operation.

The DTAP program is available to non-violent, prison-bound offenders who – but for their addiction – would most likely lead crime-free lives. In lieu of prison, offenders are offered a 36-month, court-monitored program that begins with in-patient, residential drug treatment and adds wraparound support services to help them in their recovery and rehabilitation – services that would not be provided to them as prison inmates.

An 11-page report, reflecting the results of research conducted by Maimon Research LLC, an independent agency, reveals that the county spent an average of approximately $10,000 to rehabilitate an individual DTAP participant who succeeds in the program, compared to a cost of more than $40,000 if that same individual had been incarcerated for the average sentence of 2.5 years. 

Designed to reduce drug addiction and drug-related crime in Pima County, the program has a success rate of approximately 70 percent, with more participants scheduled to graduate over the next few weeks.

“After only a short period, we have seen this program bring significant savings to Pima County and the State,” said Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall. “The program clearly works. We are making a positive difference.  We’re not only saving money; we’re saving lives and reducing crime at the same time.”

DTAP graduates are supported in finding stable employment, improving their skills in the workplace, and engaging more effectively with their families. The research shows they remain crime-free, pay taxes, and reduce the burden of state support for themselves and their families. “By providing treatment and support we see positive changes that benefit not only the participants but their families and the community as a whole,” said LaWall.

The DTAP program began with a vision by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and support from criminal justice system leaders, including Pima County Superior Court, the Probation Department, the Public Defender, and drug rehabilitation and social service providers.  The program was funded for three years through one of only 28 grants awarded nationwide. The three-year federal grant, awarded jointly by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice, helped launch the program in January 2011.  It is the only project of its kind in Arizona.

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