UMD Criminology and Criminal Justice Assistant Professor Greg Midgette’s work evaluating “24/7 Sobriety” programs provided crucial evidence for a recently introduced, bipartisan piece of federal legislation that would allocate funds towards creation and expansion of these programs across the country.
The Supporting Opportunities to Build Everyday Responsibility Act of 2022 (the SOBER Act) would incentivize the implementation of 24/7 Sobriety programs nationwide. Specifically, the Act would allocate $250 million over five years to states for the purpose of implementing new programs, supporting and expanding existing “24/7 Sobriety” programs, and collecting data to assess the programs’ impact on crime, incarceration, and recidivism.
The 24/7 Sobriety program “couples diligent supervision with consistent but fair punishments” (The Niskanen Center). 24/7 Sobriety programs are intended to reduce crime and incarceration attributable to the misuse of alcohol and drugs through frequent drug testing and modest sanctions among participants being supervised in the community. This strategy emphasizes consistent supervision with clearly defined expectations and consequences for misconduct that are undesirable to participants but not devastating to life, stability, and recovery.
The SOBER Act intends, through supporting 24/7 Sobriety and similar programs, to reduce crime and violence, reduce corrections costs, save lives, and improve the quality of lives. Dr. Midgette’s work provides empirical evidence of the health and safety impacts of 24/7 Sobriety in South Dakota (see Kilmer & Midgette, 2020; Kilmer, Nicosia, Heaton, & Midgette, 2013), North Dakota (Midgette et al., 2021) and Montana (Midgette & Kilmer, 2021). Dr. Midgette’s most recent work with department colleague Sarah Tahamont and Thomas Loughran of Penn State highlights program design choices that can reduce incarceration while preserving reductions in drunk driving (Midgette et al., 2021).
The Niskanen Center writes that “this bill has the chance to be a criminal justice game-changer.”
To hear Dr. Midgette discuss his research, listen to his interview on “Probable Causation” (or read the transcript).