Investigators at New York University and Columbia University planned, implemented, and evaluated a demonstration program designed to reduce substance-abuse relapse and criminal recidivism among felony offenders released from prison by providing them with an array of supportive services.
The program, called Opportunity to Succeed (OPTS) offered participants:
- Substance-abuse treatment
- Employment services
- Housing assistance
- Family-strengthening services
- Health-and-mental-health services.
The project initially provided administrative oversight, monitoring, and technical support to five sites—Tampa, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; New York, N.Y.; and Oakland, Calif.
During the program's first year, the New York and Oakland sites were unable to reach targeted enrollments and were dropped as research sites.
The Oakland site was dropped from the project entirely at the end of the second year because of problems with program administration. Clients were transferred to another program.
Tampa, St. Louis, and Kansas City secured local matching funds to continue program operations for a fourth year.
In 1994, CASA contracted with the Urban Institute to conduct an evaluation of OPTS.
The evaluation found:
- Reductions in alcohol and marijuana use.
- Increases in full-time employment.
- Stronger family relations among participants.
However, it also found that:
- OPTS did not have discernible effects on hard drug use or criminal behaviors.
- A cost-benefit analysis did not definitively show OPTS to be cost-effective.