- Report Published -
|Annual Report on the Status and Effectiveness of Offender Drug Screening, Assessment and Treatment|
|Secretary of Public Safety|
|In 1998, Virginia’s General Assembly adopted legislation enacting the Drug Offender Screening, Assessment, and Treatment (DSAT) initiative in the Commonwealth. The DSAT legislation, subsequently amended in 1999, outlined specific provisions for screening and assessing offenders for substance abuse. The goal of this legislation, which became effective for crimes on or after January 1, 2000, was to reduce substance abuse and criminal behavior among offenders through coordinated identification and treatment within the criminal justice system. |
The provisions, contained in §§ 16.1-273, 18.2-251.01, 19.2-123(B), 19.2-299, and 19.2-299.2 of the Code of Virginia, target juvenile offenders, adult felons, and adult misdemeanants. The mandates, therefore, affect staff and clients of numerous agencies, including the Departments of Corrections (DOC), Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services (DMHMRSAS), the Commission on Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) and local community-based probation and pretrial services programs administered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).
The Interagency Drug Offender Screening and Assessment Committee was created by § 2.2-223 (formerly § 2.1-51.18:3) to oversee the screening and assessment provisions contained in the Code of Virginia. The Secretary of Public Safety serves as chairperson. An interagency workgroup, composed of representatives of each member agency, was established to handle operational issues and to further promote coordination and cooperation.
Significant, but required, budget and staff reductions have affected each of the principal agencies. In response to cuts in funding since 2001, particularly the elimination of Substance Abuse Reduction Effort (SABRE) funds, agencies involved in screening and assessment activities have reexamined protocols and developed alternative strategies to maximize the use of remaining resources. Despite the elimination of a substantial number of staff positions formerly devoted to this task, agencies continued efforts to address offender’s substance abuse needs by streamlining the process in some instances, utilizing other screening instruments and otherwise attempting to make this task more manageable with fewer staff. Nonetheless, cuts in funding since 2001 have resulted in the curtailment of this initiative from its original design.
In 2005, the Secretary of Public Safety appointed an Ad Hoc Steering Committee to assess the current status of the DSAT initiative, as well as future resources needed to achieve a comprehensive and coordinated screening, assessment, and treatment delivery process for substance-abusing offenders. Composed of designees from the Public Safety and Health and Human Services Secretariats, the Sentencing Commission, and a certified treatment provider, the Ad Hoc Steering Committee discussed strategies for identifying priorities and targeting potential funding sources. The following recommendations resulted from this process: 1) the DSAT Workgroup should be reorganized and expanded to include representatives of various local service providers, such as drug courts and local community-based probation programs; 2) the Secretary of Health and Human Resources should be added as Co-Chair of the Interagency Drug Offender Screening and Assessment Committee (under § 2.2-223); and 3) reevaluate the original screening and assessment design and prioritize funding based on existing infrastructures.