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Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2007 Dec;51(6):686-702. Epub 2007 Jul 5.

Rational choice and environmental deterrence in the retention of mandated drug abuse treatment clients.

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John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY 10019, USA.


Length of treatment stay is consistently associated with positive posttreatment outcomes in the rehabilitation of drug-abusing offenders. However, past retention research centered on the examination of individual-level determinants to the exclusion of environmental predictors. In this study, the authors propose a rational choice framework in which treatment retention is viewed as a decision-making process that involves calculation of costs and benefits of remaining in treatment. Environmental factors not directly related to the treatment process are theorized to either reward or punish the course of action taken by each treatment client. Retention data from 1,984 drug-abusing felons diverted for long-term residential treatment were analyzed to test the hypotheses that criminal sanctions against drug offenses, violence in local drug markets, and lack of legitimate job opportunities act as deterrents against premature termination of treatment. Results corroborated the criminal sanction and unemployment hypotheses, but not the violence hypothesis. These findings highlight the necessity of reinforcing perceptions of arrest risks and job prospects during treatment. The study concludes with some clinical recommendations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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