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Drug Treatment Alternatives to Prison (DTAP) Program

In October 1990, Kings County District Attorney, Charles J. Hynes, initiated the Drug Treatment Alternatives to Prison (DTAP) Program on the premise that defendants would return to society in a better position to resist drugs and crime after treatment than if they had spent a comparable time in prison at nearly twice the cost. DTAP is the first prosecution-run program in the country to divert prison-bound felony offenders to residential drug treatment.

  • The program targets drug-addicted defendants arrested for nonviolent felony offenses who have previously been convicted of one or more nonviolent felonies.
  • Qualified defendants enter a felony guilty plea and receive a deferred sentence that allows them to participate in a residential therapeutic community (TC) drug treatment program for a period of 18 to 24 months.
  • Those who successfully complete the program have their charges dismissed; those who fail are brought back to court by a special warrant enforcement team and sentenced to prison.

To prevent relapse and reduce recidivism, the District Attorney's Office has formed a Business Advisory Council to identify and develop employment sources in Brooklyn. DTAP also has a job developer to assist graduates in finding and maintaining employment.

DTAP Facts:

  • As of January 4, 2010, 2826 defendants have been accepted into the program. Three hundred and seventy-two are still in treatment and 1,203 have completed the program and have had their charges dismissed.
  • Since 1998, when DTAP shifted from a deferred-prosecution to a deferred-sentencing model, the program has achieved an impressive one-year retention rate of 76 percent, which compares very favorably with retention data of other studies of residential drug treatment programs.
  • The vast percentage (91%) of DTAP's graduates who are able to work are employed. Ninety percent of the participants who failed treatment have been returned to court for prosecution and sentencing in a median time of fourteen days.
  • DTAP is highly cost effective. Our analysis of the savings realized on correction, health care, public assistance and recidivism costs combined with the tax revenues generated by the DTAP graduates reveals that diversion to DTAP has resulted in economic benefits of $48.2 million dollars per the 1,203 graduates.

Due to the efficacy of the Brooklyn DTAP model, it was subsequently replicated in the four other boroughs and today provides chemical dependency treatment services to more than 1,000 New York City clients a year.