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.
Key Evaluation Findings: 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.
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