Drug courts refer to specialized and supervised dockets of the court that offer sentencing treatment’s alternative and supervision for individuals that have serious mental health disorders and substance use. These courts are charged with the responsibility of handling cases that involve substance abusing offenders via drug testing, comprehensive supervision, immediate incentives, and sanctions as well as treatment services.
They provide an opportunity for people that face criminal charges for possession and use of drug to join a program for recovery from substance abuse instead of being jailed. Drug courts have strict requirements because recovering from drug and substance abuse is not easy. A candidate is required to undergo frequent testing, attend meetings, and make appearances in court regularly.
Just like other institutions, there are drug courts pros and cons that should be considered when determining whether they really work. Essentially, these courts bring the weight of interveners into a single fold. This forces offenders to deal with their problem of abusing substance from all possible angles.
Facilities of Drug Courts
Perhaps, you are asking, do drug courts really work? Do they have the facilities to help drug abusers recover? Well, drug courts provide programs that are targeted at individuals that have a high risk of reoffending. They target nonviolent, high-risk adult offenders with an aim of maximizing positive results for public and individual safety. High-risk offenders are individuals that are likely to commit additional crimes. Programs of drug courts target such individuals by providing intensive treatment and legal supervision.
These courts work by combining coercion that forces offenders to undergo treatment, active presence of the judge, and speedy adjudication as well as entry into the treatment. Coercion that forces the addict into treatment tends to work better than treatment that is sought voluntarily. What’s more, drug abusers tend to stay in and complete treatment due to the fear of spending time with supervisors around them. This enhances the chances of recovering from substance abuse.
Benefits of Drug Courts
According to research, drug courts work because they keep individuals in treatment longer compared to other treatment programs. Thus, they keep individuals clean longer. This is very important because when people stay in treatment longer, they achieve better outcomes. What’s more, drug courts save money while reducing recidivism.
Criminal behavior and drug abuse are significantly reduced when clients participate in the activities of drug courts. For graduates, criminal behavior is reduced after participating in drug court programs although recidivism has not been tracked by many studies for over a year.
Drug courts have also been proven effective in generating more cost savings though in short term. This is seen through reduced jail prison use, lower cost of criminal justice, and reduced criminality. Additionally, drug courts are effective in bridging the existing gap between the public health systems and the court. They also spur cooperation among the personnel in the criminal justice system and different agencies. They also enhance cooperation between the community and the criminal justice system.
Many studies have shown that drug courts have a benefit for the community as a whole, law enforcers and offenders. That’s because they raise awareness of the court’s staff and the bench, law enforcement, probation officers, the community, and other providers of social services about treatment and needs of the substance-involved offenders. Understanding and sensitivity of the motivations of drug offenders make those involved better prepared for the fight against it.
Pros and Cons of Drug Courts
One of the major pros of drug courts is that they are cheaper in comparison to incarceration. Incarceration of individual costs more even when a person is jailed for nonviolent drug abuse. Generally, the programs of drug courts cost less than incarceration of a prisoner. Essentially, drug courts get minimal funding of $10 million every year. However, they achieve great outcomes in terms of improving lives and reducing crime. That’s why the state finds them more attractive.
Another pro is that they are better for the society and offenders. When a drug offender is taken to prison, they don’t undergo rehabilitation. They just get a prison record which makes getting jobs harder when they come out of prison. What’s more, they can lose families when in prison or gain exposure to hardened criminals. This is not good for offenders and the society since the abusers are likely to commit more offenses instead of becoming productive society members.
Meta-analysis of the outcomes of drug court tentatively suggests that drug offenders that participate in the court are less likely to engage in similar offenses when compared to those in traditional correctional choices.
The only con that drug courts have is that they can fail to satisfy individuals that believe in stronger punishments for lawbreakers. The programs of drug courts help people that break the law although equivalent assistance may not be available for people that don’t break the law.
Additionally, drug courts may be more expensive and less effective than the traditional probation programs. But, the reason probation programs may be cheaper is because their supervision is less strict for offenders. Nevertheless, drug courts on average save $5,680 per participant. Their net benefit is $2 per every $1 spent.
Drug Courts in the U.S.
After learning about the drug abuse or mental health courts pros and cons, you may want to know where you can find these courts in the United States. According to the U.S Department of Justice, U.S has more than 3,100 drug courts spread across the states. Half of these cater to adult cases. Others cater to youth and families that need education, counseling and other services that enhance immediate intervention, structure, and treatment. They also improve functioning level by addressing problems that may lead to drug use while strengthening the capacity of families to provide guidance and structure. They also enhance accountability for the involved parties.
The Bottom Line
Drug courts are effective for nonviolent drug criminals. They offer drug criminals the options to enter treatment programs and complete them or go to jail. The studies cited in this article show that the coercion that is presented by these courts works.
About the Author
Margaret Wilson, a blogger who writes about the healthy way of life (healthy food, sports, motivation etc.). Now she studies vaping as an alternative for people who are struggling with smoking.