Note - An experiment in the Supervision of Paroled Offenders addicted to Narcotic Drugs
Pages: 39 to 40
Creation Date: 1962/01/01
This report is in two parts. Part I, "Specialized Supervision of Parolees having a History of Narcotic Addiction", by Meyer H. Diskind, supervising parole officer, and Robert F. Hallinan, senior parole officer, is a "final report of the activities of the Special Narcotic Project in the New York State Division of Parole". Part II, "An Empirical Study of the Results of the Special Narcotic Project," by John M. Stanton, Ph.D., director of parole research, is "a comparison of a sample of male parolees in the Specialized Narcotic Project with a sample of similar male parolees who were supervised in regular case-loads".
In the specialized and intensive supervision of parolees having a history of narcotic addiction, the project operated over a period of three years, from 1 November 1956 to 31 October 1959. A total of 344 parolees (265 males and 79 females), all but a few of them under 25 years of age, were supervised. The case-load was thirty parolees per supervising officer - about half the usual number. Of the 344 parolees, 119, or 35%, never indulged in any delinquent behaviour, involving drugs or otherwise. It is pointed out that this "success" figure of 35% does not tell the whole story, because a parolee was considered a "failure" if guilty of any type of delinquent behaviour, and there might be added to this percentage those parolees who were "partial successes" - those who violated but still remained productive members of the community supporting themselves and sometimes others.
This relatively high and encouraging rate of abstinence needs to be followed up by a study of the parolees after discharge from supervision, and such a study is under way.
Some other conclusions and comments in the report were as follows:
Risk to the Community. - The Parole Board was primarily interested in ascertaining whether a calculated risk could be taken with relapsed parolees, and it is noteworthy that only a very few parolees who were extended special consideration by the Board subsequently victimized the community in a serious fashion. Intensive supervision by officers with special skills and small case-loads inclined the Board to extend special consideration wherever possible.
Size of Case-loads. - The skills and techniques of the project officers are applicable to small case-loads only, thirty at a maximum for best results. It is pointed out also that the financial savings to the state are considerable because it costs $1,900 a year to maintain an inmate in a state correctional institution, as compared with $250 in the project. In addiction, a relapsed parolee who is permitted to remain in the community may support himself and others.
Use of Community Resources. - Specialized supervision of parolees definitely requires the co-operation of other agencies with specialized programmes - e.g., vocational, educational, hospital and psychiatric.
Working with Families. - Faulty family relationships are a contributing factor towards the addict's sickness, and if the parolee is to be returned to the same environment, casework is necessary in order to change the family's outlook and attitude.
Selection of Cases. - Those cases were selected which had been using opiate drugs intravenously for at least six months (average length of addiction one year and a half.) The youth of those chosen and their relatively minor pre-addiction criminal history were believed to make them a tougher problem because they fell into the inadequate personality and emotionally immature type, as opposed to the hardened criminal type whose addiction is merely an expression of hostility to society.
Psychotherapy. - Since some addicts' personality disorders are so deep-rooted as to require therapy a group therapy programme was started in 1959 with a therapist serving as consultant.
Detection of Relapse. - The project would rather not use Nalline to detect relapse to narcotics. It believes its detection techniques are adequate and reports that a large proportion of relapses were voluntarily reported to the parole officer by the parolee or his family, or both - a result of effective casework relationship. With two exceptions, the project parole officers were always able to detect relapse before it got out of hand.
Hospitalization v Detention. - It is sometimes absolutely necessary to remove the recidivist from the community in order to break the chain of association and environmental situations which might lead to re-addiction. Hospitalization would be preferable to jail for detoxification, but in the absence of adequate hospital facilities the value of detoxification in jail should not be underrated; jail not only temporarily removes the recidivist from the undesirable forces operating in the community, but is a valuable deterrent when other approaches have failed.
Additional caseloads should be created - for example, one case-load for younger addicts, and another for older addicts; separate case-loads for those with small as opposed to those with long pre-addiction criminal histories. This would help in the empirical assessment of the results.
The availability of funds to tide over parolees in emergencies was of such great help in establishing good client-and-worker relationship that it should be continued in future operations of this kind.
Case-loads should never exceed thirty, in order to get best results.
Narcotics seminars in which other agencies participate should be continued on a permanent basis - (1) for exchange of information, (2) to keep the community informed of future experiments, and (3) to help reduce the reluctance of certain agencies to work with drug addicts.
Periodic reports should be issued to acquaint the community with its further findings.
Group therapy should be continued so as to give project personnel full opportunity to assess its effectiveness.
A study of the results of the special narcotics project demonstrated that during the period of observation there were significantly fewer effective delinquencies among a sample of 79 male parolees having a history of narcotic addiction supervised in the specialized narcotic project case-loads than there were in a comparable sample of 79 parolees supervised in regular case-loads. The ratio was 36 to 60.
As far as reversions to narcotics were concerned, parolees in the experimental group supervised in the specialized narcotics project did not do significantly better than parolees in the control group supervised in regular case-loads. Forty-nine subjects in the former group and .fifty in the latter reverted to narcotics.
However, intensive specialized supervision of the sample of 79 males parolees as practised in the narcotic project, combined with the special consideration extended by the Parole Board in some cases, produced more adequate parole casework (better results) than the supervision of a sample of 79 parolees supervised in regular case-loads. This was indicated by the following findings.
1. There were significantly fewer effective delinquents among parolees supervised in the sample of narcotics project parolees than in a sample of similar parolees supervised in regular case-loads;
2. There were 15 parolees in the narcotics project sample who were never declared delinquent, did not revert to narcotics, and, if discharge from parole supervision occurred before the end of the period of observation, were not rearrested, compared with six parolees in this category in the control group;
3. During the period of observation there were altogether three parolees in the narcotics project sample, compared with ten parolees in the control group who were convicted of new offences and returned to New York State correctional institutions with new sentences.
It appears that specialized, intensive supervision of any group of parolees, particularly young persons, would be productive of better results than the supervision given in regular case-loads.