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A Study to Test the Effects of Eliminating Drug Testing of People Without a Serious Substance Use Issue

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Grant Recipient: Justice System Partners

Principal Investigator(s): Brian Lovins, Jennifer Lerch

Term: 2023 – 2029

Funding: $1,950,305

Summary: The use of drug testing in community corrections is a widely accepted strategy to supervise people, yet there is limited research on the effects of drug testing for people without an identified substance use disorder. 

Working with three jurisdictions (Brazoria County in Texas, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia, and the Idaho Department of Corrections), JSP will examine the effects of eliminating drug testing of people who do not have an identified substance use issue. Participants will be randomized into the treatment (no drug testing) and control condition (testing as usual) at the time of probation intake.

The study will include a three year follow-up with the primary outcome being criminal recidivism defined as a new arrest or conviction. JSP will also explore several secondary crime-specific outcomes (e.g., new violent arrest, new substance-related arrest) and non-criminal outcomes (e.g., successful completion of supervision, technical and new law violations, self-report drug use, housing, and employment). The results of this study should help inform policy recommendations regarding the use of drug testing for people without an identified substance use disorder.