Friday, May 29, 2015

How America Overdosed on Drug Courts
"Hailed as the most compassionate way for the criminal justice system to deal with addicts, drug courts were designed to balance punishment with rehabilitation. But after 25 years, the verdict is in: Drug courts embolden judges to practice medicine without a license—and they put lives in danger....

...Drug courts celebrated their 25th anniversary last year. Designed for defendants who have committed non-violent felonies such as drug dealing or burglary while addicted, they have been touted as a perfect balance of treatment and punishment, and as a way for the most corrigible offenders to avoid the harsh sentences mandated by drug-war laws. The idea is appealingly simple. If defendants complete a program of drug testing and mandatory treatment—often including short jail terms, known as flash incarcerations, in the case of serious rule violations—they can avoid lengthy mandatory prison terms. Those who fail to 'graduate' from the program, in the self- improvement-geared parlance of drug courts, face the mandated sentence, or sometimes an even harsher one. Coercion, the theory goes, is the key to rehabilitation."



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