Breaking the Cycle of Drugs and Crime in Birmingham, Alabama, Jacksonville, Florida, and Tacoma, Washington, 1997-2001 (ICPSR 3928)
Principal Investigator(s): Harrell, Adele V., Urban Institute; Marlowe, Douglas, The Treatment Research Institute; Merrill, Jeffrey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
This study was an evaluation of the Breaking the Cycle (BTC) demonstration projects conducted in Birmingham, Alabama, Jacksonville, Florida, and Tacoma, Washington, between 1997 and 2001. The BTC demonstrations tested the feasibility and impact of systemwide interventions to reduce drug use among offenders by identifying and intervening with drug-involved felony defendants. This study contains data collected as part of the impact evaluation of BTC, which was designed to test the hypotheses that BTC reduced criminal involvement, substance abuse, and problems related to the health, mental health, employment, and families of felony drug defendants in the demonstration sites. The evaluation examined the relationship between changes in these areas and characteristics of the participants, the kinds and levels of services and supervision they received, and perceptions of defendants about the justice system's handling of their cases. It also assessed how BTC affected case handling and the length of time required to reach a disposition, the number of hearings, and the kinds of sentences imposed. The impact evaluation was based on a quasi-experimental comparison of defendants in BTC with samples of similar defendants arrested in the year before BTC implementation. Interviews were conducted with sample members and additional data were gathered from administrative records sources, such as the BTC programs, arrest records, and court records.
These data are freely available.
Harrell, Adele V., Douglas Marlowe, and Jeffrey Merrill. BREAKING THE CYCLE OF DRUGS AND CRIME IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, AND TACOMA, WASHINGTON, 1997-2001. ICPSR version. Washington, DC: Urban Institute [producer], 2003. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2004. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03928.v1
Persistent URL: http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03928.v1
This study was funded by:
- United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (97-IJ-CX-0013)
Scope of Study
Subject Terms: courts, criminal justice system, drug abuse, drug treatment, drug use, evaluation, felony offenses, intervention, offenders
Smallest Geographic Unit: None.
Geographic Coverage: Alabama, Birmingham, Florida, Jacksonville, Tacoma, United States, Washington
Date of Collection:
Unit of Observation: Parts 1, 3, and 5: individuals. Parts 2, 4, and 6: court cases.
Universe: Parts 1, 3, and 5: Felony defendants involved with illegal drugs in Birmingham, Alabama, Jacksonville, Florida, and Tacoma, Washington, respectively. Parts 2, 4, and 6: All felony court cases processed in Birmingham, Alabama, Jacksonville, Florida, and Tacoma, Washington, respectively, between 1997 and 2001.
Data Types: administrative records data, and survey data
Data Collection Notes:
(1) Users are strongly encouraged to read the Final Report for more detailed information about the sampling and methodology for this project. In particular, Appendix A of the Final Report contains a detailed methodological report. The Final Report is available from the Urban Institute. (2) The user guide, codebook, and data collection instruments are provided by ICPSR as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.
Study Purpose: This study was an evaluation of the Breaking the Cycle (BTC) demonstration projects conducted in Birmingham, Alabama, Jacksonville, Florida, and Tacoma, Washington, between 1997 and 2001. The BTC demonstrations tested the feasibility and impact of systemwide interventions to reduce drug use among offenders by identifying and intervening with drug-involved felony defendants. The BTC strategy was to screen offenders shortly after arrest and require those found to use drugs to participate in a drug intervention while under criminal justice supervision. BTC targeted all adult felony defendants and was not limited to those charged with drug offenses. Defendants were ordered to report to BTC for drug screening as a condition of pretrial release. Those who reported drug use, tested positive for drugs, or were arrested on drug felony charges were placed in drug testing and, when appropriate, referred to drug treatment or drug education classes. The goal was to expand the scope of earlier programs such as drug courts and Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime (TASC) by incorporating drug reduction activities as part of handling felony cases. The core reforms called for by the BTC model were early intervention, judicial oversight, graduated sanctions and incentives, and collaboration among justice and treatment agencies. This study contains data collected as part of the impact evaluation of BTC, which was designed to test the hypotheses that BTC reduced criminal involvement, substance abuse, and problems related to the health, mental health, employment, and families of felony drug defendants in the demonstration sites. The evaluation examined the relationship between changes in these areas and characteristics of participants, the kinds and levels of services and supervision they received, and perceptions of defendants about the justice system's handling of their cases (Parts 1, 3, and 5). It also assessed how BTC affected case handling, the length of time required to reach a disposition, the number of hearings, and the kinds of sentences imposed (Parts 2, 4, and 6).
Study Design: The conceptual design of the impact evaluation focused on two outcomes: (1) goals for offenders, such as reductions in drug and alcohol use, criminal activity, health, social, and employment problems, perceptions of offenders concerning the fairness of the hearings, and the risk and severity of consequences for noncompliance with court orders, and (2) system changes, such as the number of hearings, number of days between arraignment and case disposition, top charge at conviction, and sentences imposed. The interventions and services hypothesized to affect offender and system outcomes included drug treatment placements, type and duration of drug treatment, drug testing, frequency of judicial monitoring, intensity of contact with case managers or court supervision staff, the types of incentives and sanctions, and the timeliness and consistency of sanctioning. In addition, offender characteristics were hypothesized to affect both the type of services received and the response. These characteristics included demographics, substance abuse pattern and severity, employment and educational status, family status and living situation, physical and mental health, prior criminal activity, and current charge. To assess the first outcome, goals for offenders, the impact evaluation consisted of a quasi-experimental comparison of defendants in BTC with samples of similar defendants arrested in the year before BTC implementation. Parts 1, 3, and 5 contain the data for this component of the evaluation for Birmingham, Jacksonville, and Tacoma, respectively. These data were collected from records maintained by the Breaking the Cycle (BTC) programs and partner agencies, as well as from National Crime Information Center (NCIC) databases. In addition, interviews were conducted by the Treatment Research Institute (TRI) with sample members shortly following arrest (baseline) and again nine months later (follow-up). The questionnaires consisted of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI), modified to include additional questions about illegal activities and participation in drug treatment services. In Birmingham (Part 1) respondents were also given the Risk of AIDS Behavior questions. In Jacksonville and Tacoma (Parts 3 and 5) respondents were asked questions about perceptions of fairness and the consequences of noncompliance with court orders. Participation in the evaluation was voluntary. TRI staff contacted potential sample members shortly after arrest and asked for their consent. They were guaranteed confidentiality and offered financial incentives for participation. The participants signed a written consent form agreeing to participate in the study and allowing the research team to collect data from criminal justice and treatment agencies. To assess the second outcome, changes in the criminal justice system, the impact evaluation assessed how the BTC programs affected criminal case processing. Parts 2, 4, and 6 contain court data from Birmingham, Jacksonville, and Tacoma, respectively, gathered for all felony defendants processed by the courts during a specified period of time. The samples were chosen to compare felony cases prior to and during BTC implementation to measure the impact of BTC on court case processing.
Sample: Parts 1, 3, and 5 consisted of a quasi-experimental comparison of defendants in BTC with samples of similar defendants arrested in the year before BTC implementation. The sample selection procedures were designed to select individuals who would be eligible for BTC services, even if selected prior to BTC implementation. Sample members were required to be (1) age 18 or older, (2) residents of the county or BTC service area, (3) facing a felony charge, and (4) involved with illegal drugs as measured by a current drug charge, a positive urinalysis screen, or self-reported drug use. A small number of potential sample members were excluded because of a language barrier, psychiatric impairment, or intoxication at the time they were contacted. For Parts 2, 4, and 6 all felony court cases processed during specified periods of time before and during BTC implementation were selected.
For Parts 1, 3, and 5, data were collected from records maintained by the Breaking the Cycle (BTC) programs and partner agencies, as well as from National Crime Information Center (NCIC) databases. Data were also collected from interviews with sample members. Interviews were either conducted face-to-face or by telephone. Parts 2, 4, and 6 consist of official records data obtained from court records on filings and case outcomes.
Description of Variables: In Parts 1, 3, and 5, data were collected from the BTC program on the sample entry charge, disposition, sentence, and re-arrests after BTC. Additional information was gathered with the Addiction Severity Index. In particular, respondents were asked about medical problems, medical history, education and employment histories, income from various sources, drug and alcohol use and abuse, criminal history, current living arrangements, family life, and psychological problems. Demographic variables include age, gender, race, religious preference, years of education, and type of occupation. Interviews in Birmingham (Part 1) also included questions from the Risk of AIDS Behavior questionnaire. Respondents in Jacksonville (Part 3) and Tacoma (Part 5) were only asked a couple of questions about Risk of AIDS, including history of sharing needles and cleaning needles and sexual history. Additional questions in Jacksonville (Part 3) and Tacoma (Part 5) were asked about respondents' assessments of the likelihood of arrest or sentencing if they committed another serious crime or tested positive for drugs, and respondents' perceptions of the fairness of the criminal justice system. Parts 2, 4, and 6 contain information from court records. Variables in Part 2 (Birmingham) include the type of offense, case status, case action, number of hearings to disposition, disposition at first hearing, days from arrest to case filing, days from arrest to first hearing, and days from arrest to disposition. Part 4 (Jacksonville) includes offender's age, race, gender, offense type, number of charges, disposition, type of sentence, number of convictions, days from arrest to intake, days from arrest to plea, total number of hearings, and days from arrest to first hearing. Part 6 (Tacoma) variables include age at arrest, gender, race, type of offense, number of counts, method of disposition, type of sentence, total sentence in days, days from arrest to disposition, days from arrest to arraignment, days from arrest to pretrial conference, and number of convictions.
Response Rates: In Birmingham (Part 1), 91 percent of the felony defendants initially identified as eligible for BTC agreed to participate in the study. In Jacksonville (Part 3), 47 percent of the pre-BTC defendants and 72 percent of the BTC defendants consented to participate in the study. In Tacoma (Part 5) 54 percent of the pre-BTC sample and 83 percent of the BTC sample agreed to participate in the study. However, after gaining consent, some participants in each of the sites were subsequently dropped from the study because they were later determined to be ineligible.
Presence of Common Scales: Parts 1, 3, and 5 contain several scales from the Addiction Severity Index, as well as several Likert-type scales.
Extent of Processing: ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:
- Standardized missing values.
- Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.
Original ICPSR Release: 2004-05-28
- 2006-03-30 File UG3928.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
- 2006-03-30 File CQ3928.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
- 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.
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