A/T Drug Courts
TURN: Drug Courts
Hostetler in 2002:
Melissa Hostetler, 3/2/02 (Kent State, Rethinking Drug Courts,
They call them the elixir to cure prison overcrowding, the cycling of drug offenders in and out of the criminal justice system, and the
skyrocketing price-tag of the US prison system. In a closer look though, many have found that
drug courts not only
accomplish their goals but they may be widening the criminal justice net, increasing costs to the
system, taking treatment slots away from voluntary, community-based programs
, and blurring the
traditional roles of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.
"Drug courts are just the latest Band-Aid we have tried to apply over the deep
wound of our schizophrenia about drugs," says Denver, Colo. Judge Morris B. Hoffman in a North Carolina Law review article that is one of the
few critical pieces on drug courts. "Drug courts themselves have become a kind of institutional narcotic upon which the entire criminal justice
system is becoming increasingly dependent."
Though they are designed to relieve the criminal justice system of some of it's burden -- one in four
American prisoners are incarcerated for a non-violent drug offense --
drug courts may actually be
of people brought into the system and thus also negating most of their expected savings.
started to see happening is
people who previously would have
not been arrested at all or given a
short term of probation or a fine wound up getting arrested
says Katherine Huffman of the Lindesmith Center for
Drug Policy Foundation. In Denver, Colo.
drug filings tripled just two years into the drug court program
had the number tripled, but the percentage of drug filings went from 30 percent of all filings to 52 percent in that same period.
to more than 100 drug courts, also saw drug arrests for possession only offenses increase from 40 percent of all drug arrests to 53 percent in the
past ten years. It is not clear though what effect if any drug courts have made directly. "All we know is that drug courts have not resulted in fewer
people sentenced to prison for drug possession offenses in California," says Dan Macalair of the Justice Policy Institute. "In fact, the evidence is
just the opposite." The increased arrests, says Jeff Tauber, president of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, is that
justice system has chosen to start dealing with those previously ignored.
By bringing offenders into the
system early on, drug courts can avoid repeated offenses, he says.
A survey suggests, though, that law enforcement see drug courts as a solution to America's drug problems. Two-thirds of the 300 police chiefs