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The Effects of California’s Enhanced Drug and Contraband Interdiction Program on Drug Abuse and Inmate Misconduct in California’s Prisons (2017)

The California Legislature provided the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) $10.4 million over two years to implement a contraband interdiction effort. Beginning in fiscal year 2014-2015, CDCR implemented the Enhanced Drug and Contraband Interdiction Program (EDCIP) demonstration. The program involved interdiction efforts at 11 of California’s prisons; eight receiving a moderate intervention and three receiving an intensive intervention. The EDCIP program was implemented in a manner that targeted institutions believed to have the most serious and pervasive contraband problems. The intervention introduced random monthly drug testing of roughly 10 percent of inmates at all institutions and enhanced use of K-9 detection teams and ion spectrometry scanning technology at intervention institutions. Detection screening technology, both for trace amounts of narcotics and in some instances full body scans, is applied in one form or another to inmates, visitors, staff, and mail and packages at intervention institutions, with the key differences between intensive and moderate intervention institutions residing in the volume of this scanning activity.

In this report, we use administrative data provided to us by CDCR to evaluate the effects of the EDCIP intervention on drug use in California prisons and the level of recorded inmate misconduct. We employ a series of quasi-experimental research strategies to gauge how these outcomes change in institutions receiving the EDCIP intervention relative to institutions not receiving the intervention. Specifically, we identify non-intervention institutions that are most similar to the intensive and moderate intervention sites in terms of pre-intervention prevalence of drug abuse (documented by the proportion of random drug tests that are either refused or that result in a positive outcome) and compare the changes in the proportion of drug tests that result in a failure at intervention and non-intervention institutions. We also construct a panel data set that varies by month and institution for the time period spanning the introduction of the EDCIP program. We use these data to test for an effect of the intervention on the number of monthly lockdowns, total recorded rules violations per inmate, and the rules violations rates for specific types of misconduct.