WORKS IN DRUG RELATED CRIMES
1. DRUG COURTS PROVIDE
EVIDENCE OF THE EMPIRICAL SUCCESS OF REHABILITATION IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.
Anthony C. Thompson,
Professor of Clinical Law, New York University, 2002 (Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, ACCESS TO JUSTICE: THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF LAWYERS: Courting
Disorder: Some Thoughts on Community Courts, 10 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 63,
What accounts for the broad receptivity to community courts? One likely explanation relates
to the success of drug courts. In response to the failure of traditional courts to address the individual circumstances of
each offender's life, drug courts have pursued a mission of meaningful intervention that, out of necessity, requires processes
different from the familiar path of a criminal case. By utilizing multi-disciplinary approaches in their handling of individual
cases and by integrating social services, health, and drug treatment with what has traditionally been the role of probation,
drug courts are able to address the root causes of an individual's involvement in the criminal justice system. Drug courts
have all but abandoned conventional adversarial roles in the interest of providing a more therapeutic and less contentious
environment for the resolution of issues. Judges assigned to drug courts closely monitor offenders through a process of treatment
and recovery. The bounded adversary system that is a seemingly indispensable part of the traditional court process appears
out of place in this new context. With their radical innovations, drug courts have seen and documented changes in the conduct
of many offenders.
2. DRUG COURTS MET THE NEEDS OF THE REVOLVING DOOR OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.
Anthony C. Thompson, Professor of Clinical Law, New York University, 2002 (Washington University Journal of Law &
Policy, ACCESS TO JUSTICE: THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF LAWYERS: Courting Disorder: Some Thoughts on Community Courts,
10 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 63, p. Np)
The 1980s witnessed a marked increase in arrests and convictions for drug-related crimes.
The War on Drugs exerted dramatic pressures on all facets of the criminal justice system. Between 1980 and 1998 the number
of arrests nationwide increased forty percent. Arrests for drug possession, possession for sale of controlled substances,
and sales of drugs increased 168%. Many of the defendants facing drug charges in criminal court were repeat drug offenders. Crack cocaine coupled with the re-emergence of a strong strain of black tar heroin
and other new drugs made issues leading to criminal conduct much more difficult for the courts to resolve. At the same time,
state and federal law enforcement received massive budget increases and formed an array of special drug units that increased
the number of street-level arrests. A crisis was in the making. Courts, already
overwhelmed by caseload increases as a result of other criminal justice initiatives, could do little more than process cases.
Defendants placed on probation often returned to court facing a violation of probation as a result of reverting to drug use
or committing crimes to support their habits. Still others served their time only to be released with little programmatic
support to prevent their return to drugs and the attention of the judicial system. The rates of recidivism offered glaring
proof that the conventional approaches to criminal cases had little effect on the problems underlying drug-related crimes.
The system consequently lost some of its legitimacy as the public increasingly perceived it to be no more than a revolving
door. Drug courts thus emerged as the judicial system's answer to both its own sense of ineffectiveness and the growing number
of complaints that the court system needed to address the root causes of criminal behavior.