Criminology, School of

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High-Frequency Use of Corrections, Health, and Social Services, and Association With Mental Illness and Substance Use

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

A subgroup of individuals becomes entrenched in a “revolving door” involving corrections, health, and social welfare services. Little research has investigated the numbers of people that are in frequent contact with multiple public agencies, the costs associated with these encounters, or the characteristics of the people concerned. The present study used linked administrative data to examine offenders who were also very frequent users of health and social services. We investigated the magnitude and distribution of costs attributable to different categories of service for those in the top 10 % of sentences to either community or custodial settings. We hypothesized that the members of these subgroups would be significantly more likely to have substance use and other mental disorders than other members of the offender population.

Methods

Data were linked across agencies responsible for services to the entire population of British Columbia spanning justice, health, and income assistance. Individuals were eligible for inclusion in the study if they were sentenced at least once in the Vancouver Provincial Court between 2003 and 2012. We examined the subset of participants who fell within the top 10 % of sentences and at least two of the following service categories: community physician services; hospital days; pharmaceutical costs; or income assistance between 2007 and 2012. We examined two groups of offenders separately (those in the top ten percent sentenced to community supervision or to custody) due to differences in time at risk and availability to receive community-based services.

Results

From more than 14,000 offenders sentenced in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, very High Frequency service users associated with community (n = 216) and custody (n = 107) sentences incurred average attributable public service costs of id="mce_marker"68,000 and $247,000 respectively over a 5-year period of observation. Health-related costs for both groups were over $80,000 per person, primarily associated with hospital admissions. Across both groups, 99 % had been diagnosed with at least one mental disorder and over 80 % had co-occurring substance use and another mental disorder.

Conclusions

A subset of offenders with concurrent psychiatric disorders receives extremely high levels of service from health, social welfare, and justice sectors in close temporal succession. Members of this subpopulation require targeted supports in order to produce positive outcomes and prevent the perpetuation of a costly and ineffective revolving door.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Deep Coastal Marine Taphonomy: Investigation into Carcass Decomposition in the Saanich Inlet, British Columbia Using a Baited Camera

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-10-20
Abstract: 

Decomposition and faunal colonization of a carcass in the terrestrial environment has been well studied, but knowledge of decomposition in the marine environment is based almost entirely on anecdotal reports. Three pig carcasses were deployed in Saanich Inlet, BC, over 3 years utilizing Ocean Network Canada’s VENUS observatory. Each carcass was deployed in late summer/early fall at 99 m under a remotely controlled camera and observed several times a day. Dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, density and pressure were continuously measured. Carcass 1 was immediately colonized by Munida quadrispina, Pandalus platyceros and Metacarcinus magister, rapidly scavenged then dragged from view by Day 22. Artifacts specific to each of the crustaceans’ feeding patterns were observed. Carcass 2 was scavenged in a similar fashion. Exposed tissue became covered by Orchomenella obtusa (Family Lysianassidae) which removed all the internal tissues rapidly. Carcass 3 attracted only a few M. quadrispina, remaining intact, developing a thick filamentous sulphur bacterial mat, until Day 92, when it was skeletonized by crustacea. The major difference between the deployments was dissolved oxygen levels. The first two carcasses were placed when oxygen levels were tolerable, becoming more anoxic. This allowed larger crustacea to feed. However, Carcass 3 was deployed when the water was already extremely anoxic, which prevented larger crustacea from accessing the carcass. The smaller M. quadrispina were unable to break the skin alone. The larger crustacea returned when the Inlet was re-oxygenated in spring. Oxygen levels, therefore, drive the biota in this area, although most crustacea endured stressful levels of oxygen to access the carcasses for much of the time. These data will be valuable in forensic investigations involving submerged bodies, indicating types of water conditions to which the body has been exposed, identifying post-mortem artifacts and providing realistic expectations for recovery divers and families of the deceased.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

A Cost-Benefit/Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of an Unsanctioned Supervised Smoking Facility in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Smoking crack involves the risk of transmitting diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). The current study determines whether the formerly unsanctioned supervised smoking facility (SSF)—operated by the grassroot organization, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) for the last few years—costs less than the costs incurred for health-care services as a direct consequence of not having such a program in Vancouver, Canada.

Methods

The data pertaining to the attendance at the SSF was gathered in 2012–2013 by VANDU. By relying on this data, a mathematical model was employed to estimate the number of HCV infections prevented by the former facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).

Results

The DTES SSF’s benefit-cost ratio was conservatively estimated at 12.1:1 due to its low operating cost. The study used 70% and 90% initial pipe-sharing rates for sensitivity analysis. At 80% sharing rate, the marginal HCV cases prevented were determined to be 55 cases. Moreover, at 80% sharing rate, the marginal cost-effectiveness ratio ranges from id="mce_marker",705 to $97,203. The results from both the baseline and sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the establishment of the SSF by VANDU on average had annually saved CADid="mce_marker".8 million dollars in taxpayer’s money.

Conclusions

Funding SSFs in Vancouver is an efficient and effective use of financial resources in the public health domain; therefore, Vancouver Coastal Health should actively participate in their establishment in order to reduce HCV and other blood-borne infections such as HIV within the non-injecting drug users.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

A Cost-Benefit/Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Proposed Supervised Injection Facilities in Ottawa, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014
Abstract: 

Background

Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are venues where people who inject drugs (PWID) have access to a clean and medically supervised environment in which they can safely inject their own illicit drugs. There is currently only one legal SIF in North America: Insite in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The responses and feedback generated by the evaluations of Insite in Vancouver have been overwhelmingly positive. This study assesses whether the above mentioned facility in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver needs to be expanded to other locations, more specifically that of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.

Methods

The current study is aimed at contributing to the existing literature on health policy by conducting cost-benefit and cost-effective analyses for the opening of SIFs in Ottawa, Ontario. In particular, the costs of operating numerous SIFs in Ottawa was compared to the savings incurred; this was done after accounting for the prevention of new HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) infections. To ensure accuracy, two distinct mathematical models and a sensitivity analysis were employed.

Results

The sensitivity analyses conducted with the models reveals the potential for SIFs in Ottawa to be a fiscally responsible harm reduction strategy for the prevention of HCV cases – when considered independently. With a baseline sharing rate of 19%, the cumulative annual cost model supported the establishment of two SIFs and the marginal annual cost model supported the establishment of a single SIF. More often, the prevention of HIV or HCV alone were not sufficient to justify the establishment cost-effectiveness; rather, only when both HIV and HCV are considered does sufficient economic support became apparent.

Conclusions

Funded supervised injection facilities in Ottawa appear to be an efficient and effective use of financial resources in the public health domain.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Analyzing The Impact Of Social Factors On Homelessness: A Fuzzy Cognitive Map Approach

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

The forces which affect homelessness are complex and often interactive in nature. Social forces such as addictions, family breakdown, and mental illness are compounded by structural forces such as lack of available low-cost housing, poor economic conditions, and insufficient mental health services. Together these factors impact levels of homelessness through their dynamic relations. Historic models, which are static in nature, have only been marginally successful in capturing these relationships.

Methods

Fuzzy Logic (FL) and fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs) are particularly suited to the modeling of complex social problems, such as homelessness, due to their inherent ability to model intricate, interactive systems often described in vague conceptual terms and then organize them into a specific, concrete form (i.e., the FCM) which can be readily understood by social scientists and others. Using FL we converted information, taken from recently published, peer reviewed articles, for a select group of factors related to homelessness and then calculated the strength of influence (weights) for pairs of factors. We then used these weighted relationships in a FCM to test the effects of increasing or decreasing individual or groups of factors. Results of these trials were explainable according to current empirical knowledge related to homelessness.

Results

Prior graphic maps of homelessness have been of limited use due to the dynamic nature of the concepts related to homelessness. The FCM technique captures greater degrees of dynamism and complexity than static models, allowing relevant concepts to be manipulated and interacted. This, in turn, allows for a much more realistic picture of homelessness. Through network analysis of the FCM we determined that Education exerts the greatest force in the model and hence impacts the dynamism and complexity of a social problem such as homelessness.

Conclusions

The FCM built to model the complex social system of homelessness reasonably represented reality for the sample scenarios created. This confirmed that the model worked and that a search of peer reviewed, academic literature is a reasonable foundation upon which to build the model. Further, it was determined that the direction and strengths of relationships between concepts included in this map are a reasonable approximation of their action in reality. However, dynamic models are not without their limitations and must be acknowledged as inherently exploratory.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

A Cost-Benefit/Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Of Proposed Supervised Injection Facilities In Montreal, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

This paper will determine whether expanding Insite (North America’s first and only supervised injection facility) to more locations in Canada such as Montreal, cost less than the health care consequences of not having such expanded programs for injection drug users.

Methods

By analyzing secondary data gathered in 2012, this paper relies on mathematical models to estimate the number of new HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) infections prevented as a result of additional SIF locations in Montreal.

Results

With very conservative estimates, it is predicted that the addition of each supervised injection facility (up-to a maximum of three) in Montreal will on average prevent 11 cases of HIV and 65 cases of HCV each year. As a result, there is a net cost saving of CDN$0.686 million (HIV) and CDN$0.8 million (HCV) for each additional supervised injection site each year. This translates into a net average benefit-cost ratio of 1.21: 1 for both HIV and HCV.

Conclusions

Funding supervised injection facilities in Montreal appears to be an efficient and effective use of financial resources in the public health domain.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Should North America's First And Only Supervised Injection Facility (Insite) Be Expanded In British Columbia, Canada?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

This article reports qualitative findings from a sample of 31 purposively chosen injection drug users (IDUs) from Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria, British Columbia interviewed to examine the context of safe injection site in transforming their lives. Further, the purpose is to determine whether the first and only Supervised injection facility (SIF) in North America, InSite, needs to be expanded to other cities.

Methods

Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted in a classical anthropological strategy of conversational format as drug users were actively involved in their routine activities. Purposive sampling combined with snowball sampling techniques was employed to recruit the participants. Audio recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically using NVivo 9 software.

Results

Attending InSite has numerous positive effects on the lives of IDUs including: saving lives, reducing HIV and HCV risk behavior, decreasing injection in public, reducing public syringe disposal, reducing use of various medical resources and increasing access to nursing and other primary health services.

Conclusions

There is an urgent need to expand the current facility to cities where injection drug use is prevalent to reduce overdose deaths, reduce needle sharing, reduce hospital emergency care, and increase safety. In addition, InSite’s positive changes have contributed to a cultural transformation in drug use within the Downtown Eastside and neighboring communities.

File(s):