Treating Drunk Drivers:
Study of the Longwood Treatment Center

Written By Richard T. Eckert 10/13/07
Topic Statement for the Research
In response to Massachusetts Legislature passing the “Act to Increase the Penalties for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquors” (LeClair, 1987, p. 47), Daniel P. LeClair decided to take on the task of studying the effects of correctional based alcohol treatment centers.  LeClair, along with fellow researchers, wanted to evaluate the effects of these treatment programs and accurately assess whether the intended goals or services were met by the participants.  “Such tasks include techniques for a determination of whether a proposed human intervention strategy is implemented and conducted as planned, whether it reaches the target population as specified, and whether the service actually achieves its intended goal as stated” (LeClair, p. 48).

Study’s Research Questions
According to LeClair (1987), “specific research questions have been developed to give structure and direction to the evaluation process as well as to ensure that the essential components of the program are adequately covered” (p. 48).  The research question formulated by LeClair included:
  1. Is the program being implemented as planned?
  2. Has the program been directed at the appropriate and specified target population?
  3. Is the program effective in achieving its intended goals and objectives?
  4. Is the program able to achieve its goals and objectives at a reasonable cost?

Reviewing the available literature
            “To advance our collective understanding, a researcher or scholar needs to understand what has been done before, the strengths and weaknesses of existing studies, and what they might mean” (Boote & Beile, 2003, p. 3).  During his review of the research, the author utilized many outside resources, which ultimately assisted in establishing his area of research interest.  Examples of the author’s use of literature review include:
  1. Lawrence William’s (1984) research which points out “that offenders committed for driving under the influence were older, more educated, more likely to be married, and received shorter sentences compared to the remainder of the county commitments”.
  2. Kathleen Moore’s (1985) research on the demographics of the Operating Under the Influence (O.U.I.) offender who is currently serving time within the Massachusetts Correctional System.
  3. The Sentencing and Corrections Committee of the Governor’s Anti-Crime Council report (1983), which highlighted the need for “three 100-bed statewide facilities to house offenders sentenced under the “drunk driving” legislation. 
  4. Empirical data taken from the Massachusetts Legislative act, which increased the penalties for O.U.I. arrests.  “For example, from 1981, a year prior to the new law, to 1983, a year after the law, the number of total county commitments rose from 6,246 to 9,627, an increase of over 50 percent”.

Research Design
            “Research design involves a set of decisions regarding what topic is to be studied, among what population, with what research methods, and for what purpose” (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005, p. 108).  In his study of correctional based alcohol treatment centers, LeClair, carried out his research by studying the effects of these centers, not only on those individuals sentenced by the courts, but on the correctional system as a whole.  In his attempts to determine the effectiveness of these centers, LeClair utilized both secondary sources of information along with direct observations and interviews.  By examining the data, which was generated by both primary and secondary sources, LeClair was able to devise a Program Evaluation Model.  “In general, the ultimate purpose of a program evaluation is to provide feedback within a social system” (LeClair, p. 48).  The evaluations provided the must needed feedback to better assist in the implementation of future programs. 
            “Much of research in criminal justice is conducted to explore a specific problem” (Maxfield & Babbie, p. 19).  In his research design, LeClair wanted to explore both the advantages and possible disadvantages of correctional based treatment centers.  During the course of generating data for his research project, both qualitative and quantitative methods were utilized.  “However, because of the exploratory nature of the research, qualitative methods predominated” (LeClair, p. 48). 

Principal Study Variables
            According to the text, variables are “logical groupings of attributes” (Maxfield & Babbie, p. 15).  In LeClair’s study of correctional treatment centers, some of the principal study variables included: chronic alcoholic, social drinker, offenders or target population, and public concern of alcohol related offenses.   
            When considering chronic offenders, LeClair defined this group as “being a potential danger to the general public and to self, vehicular homicides, hit and run accidents, innocent victims, and multiple episodes more frequently” (p.47).  When defining social drinkers, LeClair categorized this group as “having poor judgment, ordinary social-drinking citizen who happened to get caught, and was rarely viewed as significantly different from the general population” (p.47).  In defining those offenders or target population, LeClair defined them as exhibiting a prior history of serious and multiple drunken driving offenses, multiple histories of alcohol treatment programs, and extensive history with other alcohol based treatment programs (p.47).  Lastly, when defining public concerns over the growing threat of drinking and driving, LeClair pointed to the public’s gradual awareness of the frequency and severity of victimization caused by drinking and driving.  Other factors which LeClair highlighted, included the growing number of advocacy groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), increasing media coverage, and legislative and executive branches of government becoming more influenced to act towards the cause (p. 46).   

Types of Data Collection
            According to Maxfield and Babbie (2005), “data collection is closely linked to measurement choices, which in turn, depend on how we define particular concepts” (p. 209).  Utilizing the research questions described earlier in this paper, LeClair, along with the other researchers, defined basic data needs and help identify the sources for those data needs” (LeClair, p. 48).  To comprise their data, the researcher also used both qualitative and quantitative methods of collecting data.  Due to the type of research that was carried out (exploratory), qualitative methods were predominately used.  “For example, the collection of client demographics and prior criminal history records yielded quantitative data whereas qualitative data were secured through observations and in formal interviews” (LeClair, p. 48).  Listed below is a list of overall data needs and an indication of the methods of data generation (LeClair, p. 48):
  1. Detailed description of program development.
  2. Documentation of program structures, operations, services, and the flow of clients.
  3. Observations of the program in operation.
  4. Structured interviews
  5. Background information on client participants derived from department of corrections.
  6. Cost analysis
  7. Outcome measures

Sampling Techniques
            “The degree to which a sample can be considered representative is determined by the extent to which the sample’s characteristics are equivalent to the population from which the sample was selected” (Mastrorilli, 2007, p. 3).  Taking into consideration that every individual, who is incarcerated within the treatment center, shares similar characteristics (convicted of a drinking and driving offense), one, can assume that the researchers utilized simple random sampling.  “With simple random sampling all members of the target population have an equal probability of being selected” (Mastrorilli, p. 4). 
            In addition, the author also stated that through both formal and informal feedback, along with structured interviews, the researchers were able to assess the effectiveness of the program.  This was ideally done through the use of simple random sampling. 

Unit of Analysis
            “In criminal justice research, there is a great deal of variation in what or who is studied-what are technically called units of analysis” (Maxfield & Babbie, p. 90).  In addition, units of analysis can be further broken down into: individuals, groups, organizations, and social artifacts.  In LeClair’s research on correction treatment centers, the units of analysis include: the offenders convicted of drunk driving, Longwood Treatment Center, Massachusetts Department of Corrections, the counselors, correctional officers, and the Preliminary Report on Prison Overcrowding. 

LeClair’s Hypothesis
According to Maxfield and Babbie (2005) a hypothesis is “a specified expectation about empirical reality, derived from propositions” (p. 41).  For his research, LeClair wanted to test the theory that by providing alcohol treatment and educational programs within specialized statewide correctional facilities, will serve not only to reduce the amount of overcrowding in the Massachusetts prison system, but also assist those offenders in developing healthy alternatives to drunk driving and other alcohol offenses.   

Independent and Independent Variables
“Essentially, an experiment examines the effect of an independent variable on a dependent variable” (Maxfield & Babbie, p. 176).  When looking at the chronic alcoholic, this usually caused the individual to be further labeled as an offender.  In addition, the individual who’s been labeled as an offender and subsequently arrested will cause either him to be further labeled as being part of the “target population”.  Lastly, as the amount of public concern increased with drunk driving related incidents, more and more individuals were becoming labeled as chronic offenders.  This ultimately led to a greater amount of public support for punitive style punishment for these offenders. 

Issues Relating to Validity, Reliability and Generalization
When studying threats to possible validity, it’s best to look at those threats to external validity.  “External validity questions whether results from experiment in one setting (time and place) will be obtained in another setting, or whether treatment found to be effective for one population will have similar effects on a different group” (Maxfield & Babbie, p. 188).  Taking into consideration that most of the participants in the treatment programs were males (study never mentioned female participants), one could theorize that the results would be different if the offenders were all female or if the sample was made up of both males and females.  Still yet another consideration is the biological, socioeconomic, and psychological make-up of the participants. 
Statistical conclusion validity “becomes an issue when findings are based on a small sample of cases” (Maxfield & Babbie, p. 188).  One could further conclude that by using only the offenders in the Longwood Treatment Centers, does not accurately represent the expected target population, which is the entire state of Massachusetts or even, the entire nation.    
“In the abstract, reliability is a matter of whether a particular measurement technique, applied repeatedly to the same thing, will yield the same result each time” (Maxfield & Babbie, p. 129).  When analyzing the results of the Longwood Treatment Center, it becomes imperative that researchers also take into consideration the measurements of post-program results. “Such a study could be conducted over a longer post-release follow-up period and would have the advantage of providing more valid and reliable statistics than those obtained through the aftercare process” (LeClair, p. 51). 
“One of the chief goals of social science is generalization.  We study particular situations and events to learn about life in general” (Maxfield & Babbie, p. 314).  Again, similar to threats to validity, the ability to replicate similar patterns of offender treatment and rehabilitation may not be as easy as the researchers planned.  As stated previously, researchers must take into consideration the biological, psychological and socioeconomic conditions of the participants involved in the treatment programs.  Keeping these factors in mind, can researchers, along with policy makers, accurately proclaim that the results of Longwood Treatment Center can be generalized throughout the rest of the country?

Policy Implications
“In general, we considered the research findings to be very positive in their reflection on program development, implementation, operation, and impact” (LeClair, p. 49).  With prisons already at their maximum capacities, the implementation of specialized facilities, such as the Longwood Treatment Center, serves a twofold process.  For starters, the program has shown to greatly reduce the number of recidivists returning back to the department of corrections.  “Our research has shown that 8 percent of the Longwood program completers were returned to prison within 1 year of program release.  This compares to a department-wide recidivism rate of 25 percent and to a rate of 14 percent for other low security institutions similar to the Longwood program” (LeClair, pp. 49-50).  Secondly, by removing low risk criminal offenders (alcohol related) from correctional institutions and placing them into treatment facilities, is proving to serve as a greater deterrent effect.  “Evaluation techniques led researchers to conclude that the program is performing what appears to be quality treatment” (LeClair, p. 49). 
It’s the goal of correctional professionals everywhere to hopefully reduce the overwhelming number of prisoners currently incarcerated in the nation’s prison facilities.  The Longwood Treatment Programs has certainly served this purpose.  By not only reducing the recidivism rates, but providing adequate treatment programs, the offenders are less likely to return back to an already overburdened system. 
Other findings of the research project included: 1) the program served the originally intended target population, and 2) the use of both formal and informal evaluation techniques revealed a smooth run professional program.
One of the biggest policy implications, which was revealed by the research project, pertained to the large number of correctional staff which was assigned to the Longwood Treatment Center.  “Considering the nature of the facility, this large security staff may be unnecessary” (LeClair, p. 50).  Although, Longwood is considered a treatment facility, the presence of correctional personnel may ultimately serve as a hindrance.  “Further, many residents complained that the security staff members forget where they are and treat the residents like children or “like inmates at Walpole” (LeClair, p. 50). 
Another policy implication which was revealed stemmed from the lack of one-on-one counseling for the residents.  With overloaded casework and questions regarding the responsibility of the Department of Corrections (DOC) counselors, treatment became somewhat of a secondary priority for some.  “Staff at Longwood question the extent  to which individual treatment plans tailored to the particular needs of each residents can be developed and complied with without meeting clients individually on a regularly scheduled basis” (LeClair, p. 50). 

Conclusion
 By implementing programs such as Longwood, alcohol related offenders are better off when it comes to receiving the much needed treatment and counseling.  What’s been considered a win-win situation, both the correctional institutions along with the alcohol related offenders, walk away victorious.  As these programs continue to prosper, society will hopefully see recidivism rates on the decline. 


References
Boote, D. & Beile, P. (2003). Scholars Before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation; Literature Review in Research Preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3-15.  

LeClair, D. (1987). The Use of Prison Confinement in the Treatment of Drunken Drivers. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Department of Corrections.

Mastrorilli, M. (2007). Research Methods Lecture Notes. Boston, MA: Boston University Press.

Maxfield, M. & Babbie, E. (2005). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology, 4th Ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Back to ​Deterrence