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Substance Abuse Treatment Modalities: Literature Review

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Surveillance Techniques

Surveillance techniques refer to the use of methods other than self-reports to keep track of clients or to gather information on a client's use of alcohol or drugs. The use of surveillance techniques continues to form an integral function to maintaining the security and programming functions of the Correctional Service of Canada. It becomes increasingly importance for CSC staff to become fully aware of the various types of surveillance techniques used in corrections in order to best manage substance abuse delivery.

For the purpose of this review, a brief review of the six key surveillance techniques used in corrections is provided: urinalysis; direct observation; telephone surveillance; video surveillance; testing kits; and protected information reports.

Urinalysis testing practices were re-instituted at all institution sites on November 1992. A positive urine sample provides two types of information: 1) undisputed evidence that the offender has consumed an intoxicant (whether with or without a prescription must be established); and, 2) data on the scope of the consumption (i.e. the number of substances found in the urine). This information can be used when evaluating whether an offender is a cross-user and the effects this has on his/her behaviour. It is absolutely essential to remember that urinalysis does not provide proof of abuse, only of use. Other methods in conjunction with a positive test are necessary to determine abuse.

A negative sample also provides valuable information to staff. If it is reported on the laboratory certificate that the creatin levels, pH levels or gravity are abnormal, chances are the offender has adulterated or attempted to adulterate the urine sample. This is usually done by excessively consuming water, coffee or even a diuretic. The best remedy for this is to collect the first urine in the morning since this is when samples are most concentrated. This information should be communicated to the IPSO and case management officer and programming staff.

Another surveillance technique is direct observation. This technique can refer to three areas: 1) observing an offender in a condition other than normal; 2) witnessing a transaction involving the transfer of money or a quantity of unknown substance; 3) witnessing consumption of a substance by an offender. Regardless of what is observed, all information should be reported to the Institutional Preventive Security Officer.

Telephone surveillance is allowed with some restrictions: no conversations are monitored between and offender and his or her lawyer or Member of Parliament. Telephone surveillance is usually carried out by the Institutional Preventive Security Officer (IPSO) or other correctional staff. This method is mainly used by preventive security staff to gain information on trafficking and enforcement activities.

Video surveillance is used to monitor open visits, certain hospital cells, segregation cells. This type of surveillance is also used at main security posts. There are some restrictions to the use of video surveillance: no monitoring is permitted between an offender and his or her lawyer or Member of Parliament. Video surveillance serves a vital role in allowing security to monitor drug or monetary transactions between the offender and his/her visitor and also manipulation or pressuring of visitors to traffic in drugs.

When an unknown substance or contraband is discovered, Preventive Security Staff have what is commonly known as NIC substance testing kits. These kits analyze the substances and identifies drug classes. An appropriate charge can then be laid and if needed given to police to proceed with an outside charge. The information can also be used with intelligence information and random selection urinalysis results to provide a fairly accurate picture of the types and quantities of drugs found in the institution.

All information received by staff regarding drug usage and or trafficking and enforcement should be written in a protected information report. This report can aid in determining whether we have reasonable grounds that an offender has taken an intoxicant into his or her body. The timeliness of this report is critical, considering the relatively short period of time most drugs stay in the body. A course of action to be taken as a result of information in this report can be determined in collaboration with case management and program and preventive security staff. It is the obligation of all staff to report this information in a timely and accurate manner. Information regarding trafficking and enforcement should be reported directly to the IPSO and information relating to usage to the case management officer.

Proper identification and resulting action that occurs as a result of drug use is essential to the efficient management of all substance abuse programs within the CSC.

For additional information, contact:

Your Institutional Preventive Security Officer or the Urinalysis coordinator for your parole district.