Use of Drug Courts

Drug courts are an option for drug addicts arrested for related offenses that involve rehabilitation rather than incarceration. Proponents argue they are a more humane option, while opponents have a different view. On the left, there is wariness about a judge acting as a medical decision maker when giving a treatment protocol for an individual. There is also a fear that “abstinence” rehab programs, as opposed to chemically assisted ones, are ineffective and may actually result in serious illness or even death. And although drug courts have received support from all over the political spectrum, some conservatives are concerned that drug courts treat a serious criminal problem with what amounts to a slap on the wrist.

Organizations like the National Association of Drug Court Professionals are actively trying to make it so all Americans have access to drug court. New York state, for example, has 141 drug courts in use, but this does not ensure every New York resident would have access. 70 percent of drug offenders who are not given any form of rehabilitation end up back in jail or prison, so drug courts are a way of reducing long-term costs of imprisoning people.

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