Alternatives to incarceration (ATIs) are primarily designed for criminal offenders who have an underlying substance abuse disorder driving their criminal conduct. Such conduct does not necessarily refer to crimes related to substance use (e.g., possession), but also to those committed while under the influence of psychoactive substances (e.g., driving under the influence) and those committed to obtain money to purchase such substances (e.g., theft).

These programs provide these justice-involved individuals with the option of choosing treatment and rehabilitation under judicial supervision, and in coordination with a multidisciplinary team, instead of incarceration.

By focusing on the treatment of the underlying substance abuse disorder, ATI programs address the underlying cause of the criminal conduct rather than the symptoms.  As such, alternatives to incarceration can help break the "revolving door" of criminal behavior, substance abuse, and imprisonment.

ATI programs generally employ a multi-sector approach, combining expertise from the criminal justice system, public health, and social integration services.  As such, they often also stimulate collaboration between those sectors more broadly.

The most well-known and well-studied ATI is the drug treatment court (DTC) model, which can operate in both the pre-trial and post-conviction phases of the criminal justice system. Nonetheless, DTCs are just one of many ATI models that operate across the Americas. Other models include primary diversion and deflection programs, re-entry programs, restorative justice, community courts, community justice, and some other therapeutic justice approach-based models.

Objectives

Support member states in their efforts to:

  • Explore, design, adopt, and implement alternatives to incarceration for minor or non-violent drug-related offenses, with a gender, age, and cultural perspective, in accordance with their national, constitutional, legal, and administrative systems, and relevant and applicable international instruments, as well as respect for human rights.
  • Promote proportional legal sentencing for minor drug-related offenses in accordance with domestic law, and promote legal reforms, as needed, to allow proportional sentencing for minor drug-related offenses.
  • Develop mechanisms to monitor and evaluate alternative measures to incarceration for minor or non-violent drug-related offenses, in collaboration with academic and research institutions, as well as civil society.
Activities
  • Provide technical assistance to explore, implement, and evaluate ATIs, including but not limited to the drug treatment court (DTC) model for adults and/or juveniles. Such technical assistance includes, but is not limited to: training, policy discussion; development of protocols and guidelines; design of policy documents; awareness-raising and outreach on evidence-based practices; long-term sustainability planning; feasibility studies; and development of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and tools (both of process and of outcomes/impact).
  • Conduct research to inform and support the design of alternatives to incarceration policies and programs from a gender perspective. 
  • Share good practices and promote dialogue on community-based, innovative solutions aimed at reducing recidivism and improving public safety.
  • Support the creation of alternatives to incarceration pilot programs for adults and juveniles.
  • Generate capacity building instruments (including the drafting of training curricula) and support pilot testing of a curriculum on ATIs and coordinate the creation of a protocol for international cooperation in ATI initiatives.
  • Support social integration actions through cooperation with social services, health and justice systems, as well as with therapeutic communities and civil society. 
  • Develop and pilot the Case Care Management (CCM) curriculum and provide follow up technical assistance for its implementation. 
  • Provide technical support for the establishment or strengthening of rights-based and gender-responsive drug treatment court (DTC) monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanisms in countries of the region that have DTC programs, and raise awareness regarding the potential benefits of evidence-based DTCs among states that have expressed interest in the model.
  • Create and pilot test an informational tool to assist in the placement of defendants in ATI programs and promote just sentencing practices.
More Results
Results
17 OAS countries supported by CICAD in the exploration, elaboration, implementation and/or evaluation of alternatives to incarceration
Enhanced access to information and data that enable decision-makers to analyze the feasibility of implementing ATI programs, incorporating gender
50 pilot projects on alternatives to incarceration for minor drug use offenses launched in OAS countries
Support access to information for decision-making on programs of alternatives to incarceration with a gender, public health and human rights approach
Support in strengthening regulatory frameworks and cooperation for the exploration, implementation and evaluation of alternatives to incarceration
5,000 professionals from the criminal justice, health and social services systems trained
CICAD supports comprehensive programs that promote social inclusion, especially for at risk populations
Beneficiary Countries
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Argentina
Barbados
Barbados
Belize
Belize
Canada
Canada
Chile
Chile
Colombia
Colombia
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Ecuador
Guyana
Guyana
Jamaica
Jamaica
Mexico
Mexico
Panama
Panama
Peru
Peru
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Suriname
Suriname
The Bahamas
The Bahamas
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
United States of America
United States of America
More Publications
Publications
Cover of manual with abstract forms in blue and other colors
November, 2020
Manual for Scientific Monitoring and Evaluation: Drug Treatment Courts in the Americas
Manual on guidelines to measure the impact of Drug Treatment Courts
English cover with forms in blue and yellow with OAS logo
February, 2019
A Diagnostic Study of the Barbados Drug Treatment Courts: Findings and Recommendations
Diagnostic study conducted to improve the results of the Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs) in the Caribbean
English cover with forms in blue, green and yellow with OAS logo
February, 2019
A Diagnostic Study of the Jamaica Drug Treatment Courts: Findings and Recommendations
Diagnostic study conducted to improve the results of the Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs) in the Caribbean
Cover with title and image of a scale, representing justice, and a stethoscope, representing health.
March, 2022
Practical Guide of the Treatment Program Under Judicial Supervision of the Dominican Republic
(Only available in Spanish)
Team
Antonio Lomba
Unit Chief
Karelly Villanueva
Program Manager
Santiago Moreno
Program Officer
Luisa Neira
Financial Officer
Strategic Partners