Drug Courts: The Return Of Rehabilitation

2340 words - 9 pages

AbstractFor the past decade rehabilitation has been the missing element in the criminal justice system. Our president declared a War on Drugs and in a war we don't consider what to do with those taken prisoner. Much like prisoners the offender has been caught in a system that only punished and released. Little thought and money was diverted into making that individual a part of society or helping them with their addiction. But it appears; with the advent of problem solving court's justice is coming full circle. Specialty courts such as Drug court have begun to emerge as criminal justice's new technique to rehabilitate offenders.IntroductionThroughout the years many major policy initiatives and programs have been endorsed in the war against illicit drugs. These have included: antidrug legislation and strict enforcement, interdiction, antidrug education and treatment, none of these has seemed to turn the tide against the abuse of illegal drugs in society. What these initiatives and programs lacked was a cooperative effort from all the key players in the criminal justice system and an integration of other services within the local community. Thus, a therapeutic movement has begun to emerge in the criminal justice field. During the past decade two major trends have made a powerful impact on law enforcement efforts to confront drug issues in their communities. The institutionalization of community policing, along with the rapid almost contagious development of specialty courts, ie DWI court, domestic violence courts and drug courts, suggest a whole new way for doing business in the criminal justice system. Drug court programs really began to flourish in the 1990's as a local response to increasing numbers of drug related cases and expanding jail and prison populations. These programs were designed to use a courts authority to reduce crime by changing defendant's substance abuse behavior. In theory, the change in substance abuse behaviors will reduce recidivism and substance abuse use/relapse. Under this concept and in exchange for the possibility of dismissed charges or reduced sentences, defendants are voluntary diverted to drug court programs in which they agree to participate in judicially monitored substance treatment.The drug court is a model of community policing. It is shaped around principles of prevention, empowerment, collaboration and cooperative problem solving. Drug court is designed to be a proactive way to address community problems that stem from quality of life crimes, including drugs, in one way or another. The drug court program recognizes that working alone, neither the police nor the courts can respond adequately to the overwhelming problems of drug abuse. Rather, the hope for substantive and meaningful solutions to drug related crimes derives from working together building strong partnerships between the courts, the community, law enforcement and a variety of agencies. Drug court programs share several general characteristics but...

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