Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More On Drug Courts

Apropos of yesterday's post, here is some more coverage of the drug court system, this time from the New York Times:

Since the first drug court began work, in Miami in 1989, the idea has spread to more than 2,100 courtrooms in every state, though they still take in only a small fraction of addicted criminals. Offenders, usually caught in low-level dealing or stealing to support their addictions, volunteer for 9 to 18 months or more of intrusive supervision by a judge, including random urine testing, group therapy and mandatory sobriety meetings. The intent is a personal transformation that many participants say is tougher than prison — and with the threat of prison if they drop out or are kicked out.

'I’ve waited 22 months for this day, and I never thought I’d make it,' Scott Elkins, a 26-year-old hip-hop singer, told the Seattle audience in September. A cocaine user and dealer who had been clean for two years, Mr. Elkins had his felony charges dropped and has a job, his own music production company and marriage plans.
Make no mistake - the world's a better place because Elkins and others like him kicked their habits and became contributing members of society. With victimless crimes, if they must be crimes at all, that should be the goal.

1 comment:

Corey said...

Drug courts also have a (potentially) enormous net-widening effect. I studied the drug court in Syracuse NY. We had people charged with B or C level misdemeanors who could have plead to relatively short sentences (of probation) but who were under the court's supervision for more than 2 years under the drug court.

The drug court is a wonderful idea but it's often embraced with the naive expectation that substance abuse treatment will "take" in a narrow time horizon.

Also a number of the courts operate on a post-plea basis. One must enter a guilty plea which will be deferred during the program. This always troubled. me.