EURAD's Response to the EC's Green Paper on Criminal Justice

EURAD responds to the drug related issues in "Strengthening mutual trust in the European judicial area" – A Green Paper on the application of the EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention.

Question 1: Pre-trial: What non-custodial alternatives to pre-trial detention are available? Do they work? Could alternatives to pre-trial detention be promoted at European level? If yes, how?

In relation to drugs, it is important to remember that across Europe “dismissal of the case, formally or informally, by the police or prosecutors is a likely early outcome for a drug law offender, primarily for personal use offences” (EMCDDA, 2009). However, alternatives do exist and EURAD would support the use of comprehensive alternatives, in place of where dismissal would normally occur for personal use offences and in some distinct instances of where pre-trial detention may occur[1].

Question 2: Post-trial: What are the most important alternative measures to custody (such as community service or probation) in your legal system? Do they work? Could probation and other alternative measures to detention be promoted at European Union level? If yes, how?

EURAD would like to draw attention to the example of San Patrignano, Italy, where people convicted of drug-related crimes can follow a rehabilitation and recovery programme instead of jail time. The project is designed to give drug users new self-respect in the form of skills, taught in a safe, nurturing and closed environment. There are 57 trades to choose from, including horse training, plumbing and graphic design, as well as farming, wine production and baking. All are taught by experts in their fields. 

The residents pay nothing for their four-year stay in the community. San Patrignano does not receive any government funding, instead the money comes half from private donations and half from the sale of the cheese, furniture, pedigree puppies and countless other goods and services that residents provide. Since 1980, over 3,500 years of jail time have been replaced with a programme of complete, drug free recovery. Across Europe, many drug-users do not have the opportunity to access an alternative to jail time for lack of facilities similar to San Patrignano. Studies, carried out by the Universities of Bologna, Urbino and Pavia, have periodically tested former residents of the community at least three years after the conclusion of their educational programme[2].

EURAD would also like to draw attention to the impact of Hawaii’s HOPE Program on Drug Use, Crime and Recidivism[3], which, in a one-year, randomized controlled trial, showed that HOPE probationers were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime, 72 percent less likely to use drugs, 61 percent less likely to skip appointments with their supervisory officer and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked.

Importantly, this scheme conducts frequent and random drug tests and mandates drug treatment upon request or for those probationers who do not abstain from drug use while on the testing and sanctions regimen. Future research on the programme could focus on which programme components are most important, what types of offenders respond best and whether the outcomes are sustained after the probation period ends.

Question 8: Are there any specific alternative measures to detention that could be developed in respect of children?

The STARR survey (Lossel, 2011) of young offender programmes gathered detailed information on existing practices in reducing reoffending programmes. The survey contains information on a broad range of programmes and represents 25 of the 26 EU countries that have some form of young offender rehabilitation regime.

The study found that the most common type of intervention is a cognitive-behavioural approach, followed by education-based treatment and non-behavioural therapy. The study showed that therapeutic communities were also a promising form of treatment, but that most of the current research addresses adult offenders. The least common form of intervention within the study’s sample was deterrence or intensive supervision.

The study suggested that Europe should invest more in the development of community treatment programmes for those young offenders for whom community treatment is legally and empirically appropriate, such as youth offenders at moderate to high risk but in relatively low categories of potential harm doing.


EMCDDA (2009). Drug Offences: Sentencing and Other Outcomes.

Lossel, F (2011). Strengthening Transnational Approaches to Reducing Reoffending (STARR). Final Report. Cambridge University. Accessed at:


[1] I.e. young first-time, non-violent offenders, where no other criminal act has been committed

[2] More information can be found at:

[3] More information can be found at:

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