A recent article in US News & World Report highlights issues surrounding drug courts. On one hand the White House Administration advocates for them, while the Drug Policy Alliance claims they’re not the answer to a system overhaul they’re seeking.
As the article also points out, the Supreme Court recently ruled that juries have the final say on mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, not judges. This seemed to indicate that there will be less time behind bars, and hopefully more of a chance at rehabilitation.
People who are eligible for drug courts wind up being supervised by the system for at least one full year, which includes recommended treatment and monitoring. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), three-quarters of drug court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after completing their programs. In addition to treatment, these programs include drug testing, frequent court appearances in front of the judge for progress reports and rewards or sanctions depending on their performance.
The NADCP also states that drug courts save a substantial amount of money for taxpayers in both reduced criminal justice costs but also in future healthcare costs.
While drug courts may not be a perfect system (if there is such a thing), they are apparently better than the heavier-handed incarceration laws of the past while still maintaining accountability. At the very least they are one tool out of many forms of intervention programs available to help people on the path to recovery today. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding drug courts.