As a result of the pretrial urine-testing program operated by the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency (PSA), a group of drug users was identified who otherwise would have been "hidden" from the criminal justice system. During the first six months of Calendar Year 1985, these hidden drug abusers comprised 17 percent of all tested arrestees.

Hidden drug abusers had background characteristics that resembled known drug abusers much more than non-users of drugs -- although they would have been classified as non-users in the absence of the urine-testing program. Hidden drug abusers did differ from known drug abusers in that they had less serious drug problems. When combined with the relative youth of hidden drug abusers, this suggests that successful intervention strategies might be designed to reduce both the drug abuse and the criminality of these individuals. Rearrest data show the importance of trying to develop such interventions. Approximately half the hidden drug abusers arrested in the first six months of 1985 had been rearrested at least once by the end of 1986. Thus, under current conditions, hidden drug abusers are continuing their criminal careers.

This study also considered another type of "hidden," criminally involved drug abuser -- namely, those drug abusers who were engaged in criminal activity but had not been arrested for those criminal acts. Statistical techniques were applied to the arrestee urine-testing data to develop estimates of the size of this hidden population of criminally involved drug abusers. Estimates were generated of the size of the active criminal population (both arrested and not arrested), rates of drug use within it, and the extent of movement across jurisdictional boundaries to commit crimes. These estimates provided valuable additional insight about drug/crime problems in the Washington, D.C. area. If performed on a continuing basis, such estimation would allow monitoring of drug and crime problems across time, so that policymakers and planners could obtain a clearer picture of changes in the extent of those problems.

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