- Report Published -
|2001 Annual Report: Interagency Substance Abuse Screening and Assessment Committee|
|Interagency Substance Abuse Screening and Assessment Committee|
|Pursuant to legislation adopted in 1998 and 1999, many adult and juvenile offenders in Virginia must undergo screening and assessment for substance abuse problems. The screening and assessment provisions defined in §§ 16.1-273, 18.2-251.01, 19.2-299 and 19.2-299.2 of the Code of Virginia target all felons, Class 1 misdemeanor drug offenders ordered to supervision or programming, and juvenile offenders adjudicated for a felony, a Class 1 or 2 drug-related misdemeanor, a drug-related charge that is the juvenile's first offense or any other act for which a social history investigation is ordered. Pre-trial services programs are also authorized under § 19.2-123(B) to perform substance abuse screening when evaluating offenders for pre-trial release from jail. Under the law, offenders who commit their crimes on or after January 1, 2000, must undergo a substance abuse screening. If the initial screening reveals key characteristics or behaviors likely related to drug use or alcohol abuse, a comprehensive substance abuse assessment must be administered.|
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 Interagency Committee serves to promote interagency coordination and cooperation. Since its inception in 1999, the Interagency Committee has been active in the implementation and administration of this comprehensive program. The Interagency Committee continues to assist and monitor agencies involved in screening and assessment activities. The Interagency Committee is charged with ensuring the quality and consistency of the screening and assessment process across the Commonwealth. To this end, the Interagency Committee has coordinated a variety of training seminars on screening and assessing offenders for substance abuse problems as well as federal confidentiality requirements associated with this activity. The Interagency Committee is also responsible for implementing an evaluation process to assess the effectiveness of substance abuse screening and assessment for offenders. In 2000, the Criminal Justice Research Center of the Department of Criminal Justice Services agreed to evaluate the program. A report on the first phase of the evaluation, addressing the program's implementation, is scheduled for release in July of 2002.
Data reported for fiscal year (FY) 2001 reveal that a substantial portion of offenders entering the criminal justice system in Virginia have substance abuse problems related to drugs or alcohol. For 43.6% of adult felons, the screening performed by a Department of Corrections probation officer indicated the need for a thorough assessment (Figure 1). Of the adult felons assessed, 93.0% were found to be in need of treatment services beyond substance abuse education programming. Experience to date has shown that local Alcohol Safety Action Programs have received few screening orders or referrals for misdemeanant offenders sentenced in Virginia's general district courts. In FY200l, local community-based probation programs handled a substantial number of adult misdemeanants who required screening and assessment, as well as many low-level felons ordered to participate in one of these programs. Local probation programs report that 46.5% of offenders in this group required subsequent assessment, and more than 71% of those assessed needed treatment services more extensive than substance abuse education. Data compiled by the Department of Juvenile Justice during FY2001 suggests that as many as one in five (19.9%) of juvenile offenders needed a substance abuse assessment. Assessment of juvenile offenders revealed that nearly one-third (32.9%) were in need of substance abuse treatment services. Although not specifically directed under § 19.2-299.2, pretrial services programs also perform screening and assessment as part of the evaluation of an offender for pre-trial release from jail (as authorized in § 19.2-123(B)). When approved by the locality's chief judge, the results of screenings prepared by the local pretrial services program are provided during the offender's initial appearance in court. Overall, nearly 40,000 screenings and nearly 13,800 assessments were completed in FY2001.
The Interagency Committee's oversight of the screening and assessment program continues. Ensuring the quality of the screening and assessment process is an important goal of the Interagency Committee. In 2002, the Interagency Committee will provide additional training workshops, educational seminars and informational presentations for agency staff, judges, Commonwealth's attorneys and defense attorneys. The Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services has obtained approval from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to develop state and local trainers in confidentiality issues. This "Train the Trainers" initiative is planned for 2002. In addition, the Interagency Committee is continuing to refine confidentiality protocols to promote efficient exchange of information among Virginia's criminal justice agencies and treatment organizations. In an effort to improve the delivery of treatment services within the criminal justice system, the Interagency Committee is developing a treatment/sentencing matrix as an additional tool for judges and correctional agencies. The matrix, a purely advisory tool, could provide judges and probation officers with information regarding treatment services suitable for a defendant under supervision in the community, given the nature and severity of his addiction and the public safety objectives of the Commonwealth.