With the exception of the cost involved in conducting drug/alcohol tests on staff, the responding 46 U.S. correctional systems and two Canadian systems cited few if any drawbacks to such programs. In addition to the data requested, numerous additional comments were received from the responding systems about testing staff for substance abuse. For purposes of this summary, the responses from Canada are not included but are noted on the tables that follow.
Testing Officers and Searches
Forty-two (91 percent) of the reporting U.S. systems conduct testing on their correctional officers; Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and Wisconsin do not. This testing is done either prehire or at the academy level, or in the cases of New Jersey, Rhode Island and Texas, at both times. After placement, monthly follow-up testing is conducted in Louisiana, quarterly testing is conducted in Indiana and 25 systems randomly test their officers. Reasons given for testing include reasonable suspicion; a requirement for those officers who will be required to obtain a commercial driver's license; as determined by a collective-bargaining unit in Minnesota; and for firearm certification in New Mexico. Maryland indicated that it conducts testing relative to promotions/personnel actions.
Overall, the percentage of officers testing positive is extremely minimal. Only three states, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and West Virginia had more than 20 percent test positive for drugs, and these states only test in small numbers, when there is reasonable suspicion to test. The majority of the responding systems reported positive results for less than 5 percent of their tests. Compared with the previous year, only Louisiana, Michigan and New Hampshire indicated an increase in positive test results. In fact, New Hampshire commented that the increase probably was misleading due to data that combines prescription medications and illicit drugs.
Arizona is the only reporting system that uses dogs for drug searches on an established schedule. Beyond that, 20 reporting systems conduct drug searches at random; 18 of the systems check for drugs each time staff enter their facilities; and five systems search for drugs each time staff exit the facilities.
Testing Administrative Staff
Thirty-one (67 percent) of the reporting U.S. systems conduct drug or alcohol tests on their administrative staff. In nine of those systems, there were no positive test results reported. Sanctions imposed on staff vary...