For more information contact:
Amelia Cramer

February 14, 2017
(Tucson, AZ) Barbara LaWall, Pima County Attorney, announced that a new, independent, cost-benefit study confirms that Pima County’s Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP) Program continues to save lives, save taxpayers money, and reduce recidivism. 

In January 2017, a new cost-benefit analysis of the DTAP Program was published. The analysis tracked the long-term outcomes and costs for participants who entered DTAP in 2011 and 2012 compared to a control group which did not have DTAP as an option, and thus were sentenced directly to prison. The per-participant cost for control group participants who went to prison was $47,540; while the cost for DTAP participants who successfully completed the DTAP Program over three years was much lower - $17,266 (only 36% of the cost for prison). 

In 2016, the Pima County DTAP Program served more than 60 participants, for a total savings to taxpayers of more than $1 million in just the past year alone.  Over the six years that the DTAP Program has been operating, the cost savings to taxpayers has exceeded $4 million.

Meanwhile, the recidivism rate for all DTAP participants was less than half that for the control group of individuals who were sent to prison. When factoring in the reduction in recidivism and other societal benefits of the DTAP Program (which include lower emergency room costs, fewer children on public assistance, and taxes paid by those who succeed in the DTAP Program and are gainfully employed), the cost savings are even greater. 

Ms. LaWall said: "This program is a win-win-win for the community. DTAP saves lives, reduces recidivism, and saves money."  

The DTAP program is designed to reduce drug addiction and related crime. A special sentencing alternative is offered to non-violent, drug-addicted individuals who have committed felony offenses, including drug-related offenses, for which the punishment otherwise would be prison. These individuals are allowed to avoid prison and instead go into residential drug treatment with wraparound recovery support services, including counseling, transportation assistance, job training, job placement, and medical, mental health, and behavioral healthcare.

The cost-benefit analysis of the DTAP Program was published by Michele Walsh, Ph.D. and Dierdre Avery, MS, MPH of The University of Arizona, Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Community Research, Evaluation and Development Program, along with Jessamyn Schaller, Ph.D. and Erin McGuire, M.A. of The University of Arizona Department of Economics.  To view the analysis, click here or visit our website at: .