Should We Create More Drug Courts?

As a long time proponent of drug courts, the easy answer to this question is:  of course. But perhaps……just perhaps……the answer is we ought to mainstream how the criminal justice system deals with addiction. 


More drug courts, easier access to opioid alternatives, urged by White House drug commission. 

The panel, led by New Jersey Governor  Chris Christie, also recommends changing an old federal policy that blocked Medicaid payments to inpatient treatment facilities with more than 16 beds for victims of substance abuse, clearing the way for more people to get more care more quickly. The administration still hasn’t authorized more funding to combat the opioid epidemic. THE WASHINGTON POST. Drug courts throughout the country have struggled with getting to scale. For many communities the problem is not the creation of a drug court it is getting more defendants in the existing drug court. Surely that is a money issue but it also is a criteria for admission to drug court  issue as well. Our drug court does not take dealers! Fair enough but an awful lot of users are simultaneously dealers. They buy some sell some and self finance their addiction. It might just be easier to self finance addiction by selling part of your drugs  as opposed to stealing and using the proceeds of theft to buy drugs. Our drug court does  not accept snitches or we do accept snitches but the police  don’t charge them right away. Law enforcement lets them “work” their way into eligibility for drug court. Today you maybe a dealer ineligible for drug court but a few months from now and a few arrests from now you will be eligible. Is there a solution? First, there needs to be real money to finance effective treatment. Second, An open minded assessment of criteria for eligibility needs to occur. Third getting people into treatment has to happen fast, real fast. If an arrest is the functional equivalent  of intervention then within hours connecting the defendant to treatment needs to occur. Finally, drug court need to have a supportive environment. 

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