Follow Up Letter in NYT About “Drug Courts”

By BitcoDavid

On March 2nd, we published a post about Federal judges working to institute Drug Court programs in several states. The Times recently published a follow up letter from an attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Claire Martin Photography Image source ChangeTheThought
Claire Martin Photography 

Here’s that letter as it appeared in the NYT, on March 10th.

Outside Box, U.S. Judges Offer Addicts New Path” (front page, March 2), reported on the benefits of drug courts and their increasing popularity. But enthusiasm for replicating drug courts should be tempered with a healthy dose of caution.

Drug addiction is best treated by health professionals, separate and apart from the criminal justice system. Drug court programs are inherently coercive and typically require defendants to plead guilty (and forgo their trial rights) before they participate in the program.

Drug courts also require participants to be subject to frequent drug testing as an indicator of success in the program. If a person relapses, he is sent to prison.

It is important to question whether the drug court model is best suited to dealing with the particular issues posed by drug addiction. Drug relapses should be met with more intensive services rather than be a pathway to incarceration.

There is no silver bullet for the complex problems posed by drug addiction, and there is no substitute for nuanced, comprehensive and evidence-based drug treatment, however tempting drug court programs may appear to be.

Senior Staff Attorney Drug Policy Alliance
Berkeley, Calif., March 4, 2013

Again, here’s the link to the original piece in the NYT.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

5 thoughts on “Follow Up Letter in NYT About “Drug Courts”

  1. Alcoholism and drug addiction can be effectively treated with a combination treatment plan of medication/behavior therapy/vocational rehabilitation. It does, of course, depend on the support system around the addict, as well as their motivation. The one thing that absolutely will NOT work is imprisoning them. Prison offer far more opportunities for illegal drug use than any street corner in the average town. With the ready availability of drugs and the absence of any motivating factors, it just stands to reason that an abuser will continue to abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As one who’s experienced drug court, it’s a double edged sword. Luckily, I’m one of some who actually made it through and have remained sober. A supposedly 11 month program took me over 2 years to complete. Several 3 day stays in jail for “not following rules,” 3 weeks in jail while waiting on a bed in a rehab, and a 45 day rehab stint. Some weren’t so lucky. Then again, some of us had severe addiction problems that need way more than threats of prison.

    Liked by 1 person

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