Justice & Security Strategies, Inc. (JSS) conducted a multi-site evaluation of a presumptive drug detection technology developed by Mistral Security Incorporated (MSI). Funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) the evaluation used multiple social scientific methods to determine whether the technology could be used in community corrections settings and whether the technology was cost-effective. The evaluation was conducted in a work release program, with probation and parole, and in a drug court in three states — Wyoming, Alabama, and Florida.
The presumptive drug detection technology (PDDT) involved the use of aerosol sprays which were used with specialized paper that react with trace elements of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana. Basically, the specialized paper is swiped onto a surface (desk, chair, or any item) or a person (hands, arms, etc.) and then the paper is sprayed with the aerosol. If the paper changes color then it indicates trace elements of a specific drug. Unlike urinalysis, Mistral’s products are not meant to determine whether a person has ingested drugs, only that the person has touched, handled, or come into contact with an illegal substance.
JSS staff worked with corrections staff to test the technology on clients within community corrections settings. JSS collected data on 562 tests, interviewed clients, correctional officers, and staff, and observed the use of the spray and specialized paper.
The major goal of the evaluation was to determine whether the PDDT has a place in the field of community corrections. This evaluation asked:
Will this technology increase agencies’ success in identifying offenders and/or settings that have been exposed to drugs?
Does the technology help to decrease the overall cost of drug testing (i.e., less use of urine analysis)? and
What is the overall cost/effectiveness of using this product?