Oct. 27, 1999
Contact: Carey Hoffman


Cincinnati -- Work by University of Cincinnati researchers shows that Hamilton County has found an effective long-term alternative for dealing with one of society's most vexing behavioral issues, chronic drunk drivers.

A 10-year follow-up study completed by researchers from UC's Center for Criminal Justice Research gives high marks to Hamilton County's Turning Point program, operated by Talbert House as a chemical dependency treatment option for multiple DUI offenders.

"Hamilton County has shown that appropriate treatment for habitual drunk drivers can have a positive effect," says Ed Latessa, principal investigator for the study and head of UC's criminal justice division.

Excluding traffic and minor offenses, Turning Point clients were nearly 30 percent more successful in avoiding any new offense than a comparison group that did not go through the program. That measurement becomes particularly significant when taking into account the extended period of time looked at.

"They've consistently reduced recidivism and it s remained that way for a 10-year period," Latessa says.

Latessa and graduate students Alex Holsinger and Travis Pratt found that Turning Point participants were 33.9 percent successful in avoiding any new offense over the 10 years studied, compared to a success rate of just 3.6 percent for the comparison group. When looking specifically at DUI arrests, Turning Point participants were 63.6 successful in avoiding further trouble, compared to a 54.7 percent rate for the comparison group. Most impressively to the researchers, beneficial effects of Turning Point treatment measured over time had solid staying power. A treatment effect measurement constructed by the researchers showed the effect at 16.6 percent one year after treatment, dropping to 11.5 percent after four years, but back up to 14 percent after 10 years. The 10-year measurement was not only an improvement over the four-year mark, but it was more stable meaning more statistically significant across more of the subgroups and outcome criteria that make up the measurement than it was in either of the one-year or four-year evaluations.

Besides these successes in outcome, the Turning Point program scored very well when measured against the Correctional Program Assessment Inventory (CPAI) used by criminal justice professionals as a program evaluation tool. The Turning Point program posted a score of 74 percent on the CPAI, earning a program integrity rating of "very high" and ranking among the top 10 percent of all programs nationally that have been evaluated using the CPAI.

"We've seen the program is most effective when it specifically targets habitual drunk drivers," says Latessa, in pointing out the major recommendation made in the study s conclusions. Turning Point is most clearly effective, the researchers say, when it sticks to clients who meet the defined basic program requirements of having three or more DUI offenses and who have spent 30 days or more in jail prior to entering Turning Point s treatment phase.

Turning Point entrance requirements say that participants can not be violent criminals and must express an interest in helping themselves with their problems. They must serve at least 30 days in jail before coming into the program and then spend 28 days at the program site. After completion of in-patient chemical dependency treatment, they receive a modified sentence that includes on average two years of probation and a commitment to a six-month aftercare program that includes 26 group meetings and attendance at a minimum of three Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous meetings per week.

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