Initiatives for Sub-Working Group 3.3 - Addressing Populations in Contact with the Criminal Justice System, including Alternatives to Incarceration

Adapt Risk and needs assessment tool for the smarter use of sentencing and drug treatment in Alternatives to Incarceration programming for the Americas

A key barrier to implementing ATIs is the lack of reliable information about individuals' specific backgrounds and their needs to allow officials to detect underlying factors, including but not limited to substance use disorders driving the alleged criminal behavior. To address this, ES-CICAD is developing and piloting a risk-needs assessment tool using the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) theory. The RNR theory states that effective interventions should assess and target specific criminogenic risk factors, address the dynamic needs of individuals, and tailor interventions to the cognitive and learning styles of the participants. By incorporating these principles, the RNR model aims to enhance efficiency and foster better-informed interventions, thus reducing recidivism and promoting rehabilitation among offenders.

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Developing and Supporting ATI Systems and Networks

The International Consortium for Alternatives to Incarceration (ICATI) partners with countries, organizations, professionals, and sites to promote and support the global development and implementation of treatment and care as an alternative to incarceration, conviction, or punishment (ATI). This project extends across all phases of ATI development, from initial interest to action planning, and implementation of demonstration projects to ATI expansion.  ICATI connects its members to the support, resources, and networks that allow us to do this work together.

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Case Care Management programs supporting social integration of justice-involved individuals with substance use disorders based on gender, age, and specific needs in the Americas

Case Care Management is a model developed by ES-CICAD that supports the development and implementation of a multisystem approach, including justice, health, and public services. CCM interventions (adults and adolescents) support countries to identify and address the strengths and needs of justice-involved individuals with substance use disorders and support them in accessing services and opportunities towards their recovery and social integration. The CCM model is applicable and expandable to address gender, age, and specific needs of the justice-involved population in the country. 

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Development, Implementation and Expansion of Alternatives to Incarceration Programs in the Americas

Over the last two decades countries demonstrated increasing interest in models and good practices of alternatives to incarceration (ATI) for justice-involved individuals with substance use disorders from both a public health and public security perspective. The program aims to support countries providing training, technical assistance, and expertise in developing evidence-based ATI programs at different levels of the justice continuum. 

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From global policy to local implementation - UNODC Initiative on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System

The Global initiative on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Alternatives to Conviction or Punishment (ATI) was launched in 2016 by UNODC and WHO in response to Commission on Narcotic Drugs resolution 58/5 on “Supporting the collaboration of public health and justice authorities in pursuing alternative measures to conviction or punishment for appropriate drug-related offences of a minor nature”. 
 

The worldwide prison population stands at 11.2 million individuals, and continues to increase despite severe challenges associated with prison overcrowding. Many people who use drugs have been in contact with the criminal justice system at some point of their lives and many people in the criminal justice system have a history of substance use. UNODC estimates that at pre-trial and trial stage of the criminal justice continuum, more people are in contact with the criminal justice system for personal use related offences than for drug-trafficking offences . For personal use related offences and other offences of a minor nature, committed by persons with drug use disorders, measures such as treatment and rehabilitation can be offered as complete alternatives to conviction or punishment, in line with the International Drug Control Conventions . 
Such an approach aligns further with the UNODC-WHO International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders  and the International Drug Control Conventions, the UN Standards Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners , the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures , as well as the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders, for which UNODC is the custodian. 
 
At national level, ATI implementation follows the ICATI (International Consortium on ATI) lines of action, from pre-assessment, forming of a leadership group, capacity building, technical assistance and demonstration of enhanced health and justice coordination at national or sub-national level.  

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Global initiative on Accessible, Comprehensive and Quality Treatment for People with Drug Use Disorders and Associated Mental Health Disorders in Prison Settings

A solid majority of countries worldwide are still operating with overcrowded prisons and often even above 150% of the prison capacity. Currently, there are 11.2 million people in prisons globally . According to the World Drug Report 2017, drug use is higher in prison settings compared to the general population. High use of synthetic drugs such as synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic opioids, synthetic cathinones and new benzodiazepines have been reported in prison settings.  
The work of UNODC on mental health and drug use disorder treatment in prison settings responds to resolution 61/7  on the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on “addressing  drug problem” and the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) Outcome Document , which suggests to “promote and strengthen regional and international cooperation in developing and implementing treatment-related initiatives (…), enhance technical  assistance and capacity-building and ensure non-discriminatory access to a broad range of interventions, including psychosocial, behavioural and medication-assisted treatment, as appropriate and in accordance with national legislation, as well as to rehabilitation, social reintegration and recovery-support programmes, including access to such services in prisons and after imprisonment(…)”.  
UNODC is the custodian of the United Nations Standards Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), which highlight the need to provide “health-care service for the psychiatric treatment of all other prisoners who are in need of such treatment” and in many places highlights the needs for equitable access to health care, including mental health services and services for the treatment of drug use disorders. 


As generally, access to health care services for people in prisons are limited globally, evidence-based treatment and care for people with drug use disorders in prison settings are even more so important. The importance of the provision of treatment of drug use disorders in prison settings as well as the integrated treatment of drug use disorders and related mental health disorders has furthermore been described in the UNODC/WHO International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders.The global initiative is aiming to be implemented in all regions and UNODC stands ready to support countries in their efforts to strengthen quality and accessibility of drug use disorder treatment and care services for people with drug use and associated mental health disorders in prison settings. The overall objectives include to:

  • Development of updated technical guidance and training materials (including online training) on accessible, evidence-based, comprehensive and quality treatment of drug use disorders for people with drug use and associated mental health disorders in prison settings for UN Member States and other stakeholders, including options for post-sentencing alternatives to incarceration and prison release 
  • Development, field-testing and dissemination of newly developed tool in this field 
    • Build communities of practice and networks of countries and service providers across countries for mutual support and to share good practices and lessons learnt on treatment services and care for people with drug use and associated mental health disorders in prison settings: Development of a mentoring network on effective treatment of drug use disorders in prison settings and upon release from prison 
  • Enhance the capacity and coordination of health, law enforcement, legal and social actors and their respective institutions 
  • Continue global advocacy with UN Member States and civil society on the need for increased access to treatment of drug use disorders and other mental health disorders in prison settings 
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Development and Implementation of Gender-Sensitive Alternatives to Incarceration for drug-related offenses

Gender generally features in discussions on the drug problem. Still, few of the responses or interventions that tackle the consequences of drugs include tangible components and solutions that address gender imbalances in the criminal justice system. The program aims to foster an improved understanding of the gender dimensions in the criminal justice system by providing training, technical assistance, and expertise in developing and implementing alternatives to incarceration for low-level, drug-related offenses. 

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Optimizing Risk and Needs Assessment Tools for Enhanced Sentencing and Therapeutic Justice Programs in the Americas.

A key barrier to implementing ATIs is the lack of reliable information about individuals' specific backgrounds and their needs to allow officials to detect underlying factors, including but not limited to substance use disorders driving the alleged criminal behavior. To address this, ES-CICAD is developing and piloting a risk-needs assessment tool using the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) theory. The RNR theory states that effective interventions should assess and target specific criminogenic risk factors, address the dynamic needs of individuals, and tailor interventions to the cognitive and learning styles of the participants. By incorporating these principles, the RNR model aims to enhance efficiency and foster better-informed interventions, thus reducing recidivism and promoting rehabilitation among offenders. 

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Addressing alternatives to incarceration through drug policy analysis and implementation in select Southeast Asian countries

The objective is to decongest and prevent recidivism for drug-related offences among people in prison. The current prison systems in the region of Southeast Asia are over-capacity, impacting prison conditions and rehabilitation effects of people with drug use disorders. This initiative will provide a model for evidence-based treatment interventions in low resource prison settings, while establishing opportunities for diversion from criminal justice systems. 

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