Increasingly, persons entering the criminal justice system are reporting substance-related concerns. It is therefore essential that interventions appropriately target the needs of substance-using offenders to ensure the rate of reoffending can be reduced. In this context, there is now a substantial literature demonstrating specific neurocognitive deficits among substance-using and offender populations, including, but not limited to, problems with executive function, rational decision making, consequential thinking and prospective memory. Such research is providing important insights into why current intervention approaches may not be as effective for substance-using offenders, and why emerging programs, such as ‘swift, certain and fair’ justice programs, which focus on guaranteed, immediate but proportionate sanctions, might be more successful in reducing both substance use and offending behaviour. In this paper, we argue that the potential success of this intervention can be understood from a behavioural learning and neurocognitive perspective, and may point the way forward for other approaches that seek to change behaviour.
- substance use