Junior Investigator Receives His First Independent Researcher Award from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

August 15, 2007

Robert Dunigan, PhD '04, Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Behavioral Health of the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, has been awarded his first independent research grant through the New Connections Initiative: Bringing Diversity to RWJF Grantmaking. The abstract for the project appears below.

African-American and Latino males with a history of criminal justice involvement and substance abuse problems are at high risk for relapse and recidivism, yet treatment interventions that address these problems have been limited. Moreover, there is little evidence about the effectiveness, and cultural and social relevancy, of treatment practices administered pre- and post-release for the general prison population, and young African-American and Latino male offenders in particular.

This study will involve secondary data analyses to examine factors that predict whether young African-American and Latino male offenders receive substance abuse treatment during prison and post-release, and how treatment is associated with time to recidivism (re-arrest or re-incarceration) post-release. We will include subgroup comparisons of young African-American, Latino and white males with their older cohorts in order to better understand the interactions among race/ethnicity, age, substance abuse treatment and monitoring post-release, and the relationships of all of these factors to outcomes.

Data are available from an existing de-identified dataset, created using probabilistic matching of Connecticut's Department of Correction (DOC) files with data from Connecticut's Departments of Public Safety and Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) Substance Abuse Treatment Information System (SATIS). The dataset includes all sentenced prisoners with moderate to serious substance use disorders who were released during fiscal year (FY) 2003, along with substance abuse treatment, DOC movement, and arrests for FY2001 - FY2005 for the same individuals.

The results may provide useful information to help justify the expenditure of additional resources for the development of strategies and interventions that improve health and social outcomes for young African-American and Latino male offenders. The provision of such interventions would be an important step in reducing the much greater societal costs associated with negative health and public safety consequences, along with the monetary expenditures associated with re-incarceration versus providing substance abuse treatment for these populations.

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