¶ … America has been involved in a war on drugs. Part of the reason for this, is because of the negative social impacts that they have on society. As public officials, want to limit those substances that are considered to be addictive or dangerous. This has led to increased efforts to enact and enforce laws, with the federal government spending $1 trillion in 40 years. ("After 40 Years," 2010)
However, the problem is that during the process of achieving these goals, the criminal justice system is becoming overwhelmed with the large numbers of dealers and addicts. In most situations, the courts will often try to plea bargain the majority of these cases to deal with the backlog. At which point, the system will become full of another round of dealers and users. Once this begins to occur, it means that this repeating cycle will lead to overcrowding in many prisons and jails. While at the same time, the courts are unsure about what they can do to deal with the continuing number of offenders. This is troubling, because it is showing how the criminal justice system is unable to deal with the large amounts of drug cases.
As a result, some communities have been creating Drug Courts to deal with these challenges. This is when anyone who is arrested for any kind of drug related offenses will appear. The basic idea with this kind of approach, is to separate these cases from others inside the criminal justice system. Once this occurs, is when the defendants will receive better legal representation and the judges can more effectively deal with offenders on a case by case basis. This is the point that the courts are not as overwhelmed under this kind of system. These elements are important, because they are illustrating how the introduction of a Drug Court can address these issues.
Evaluation / Proposal of the Drug Court
In 1989 Dade Country (Florida) implemented a new kind of court to deal with the rising crack cocaine epidemic on the streets of Miami. Initially, this was set up as a test solution for this problem. However, after it became clear that the court could more effectively deal with drug related cases, is when many states and local governments began to follow this basic model. Since that time, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals published Defining Drug Courts: The Key Components. This created a specific approach that can be implemented by communities around the country when establishing their own drug courts. Below is set of criteria for y establishing these kinds of institutions. (Huddleston, 2008)
The integration drug and alcohol related cases into one court.
All defendants must sign a preemptive confession. A preemptive confession is when the person is waiving their rights to a speedy trial and due process of law. As the basic objectives of prosecutors and defense attorneys are to promote public safety.
Anyone who is eligible must be placed under the jurisdiction of these courts as soon as possible.
These courts must provide defendants with access to drug and alcohol treatment services.
There is frequent alcohol and drug testing.
A coordinated approach is necessary when utilizing these courts in the community. As, they must work in conjunction with: law enforcement and the general public to address these issues.
There needs to be regular judicial interaction with defendants.
The court must practice effective monitoring and measurement to ensure that they are dealing with these...
("The National Association of Drug Court Professionals Drug Court Standards Committee," 1997)
To effectively evaluate if a drug court can address the needs of municipalities. We will focus on how the data will be collected and analyzed. During the process of our program we will use what is known as qualitative analysis. This is when we are looking at specific pieces of data that will focus on a number of different aspects of the solution. To include: looking at the natural trends that are occurring, relying on the research to collect / study data and to focus on abstract concepts that could impact the outcome. The way that this will be accomplished is through looking at documents that can provide us with critical pieces of data. Once this occurs, is when we can be able to determine how Drug Courts will help the communities effectively address the problems they are facing. (Royse, 2010, pp. 83 -- 101)
The various pieces of data that were examined are illustrating how Drug Courts are effective at reducing recidivism inside the community. This is because they are focused on finding some kind of solution that will address the underlying problems impacting defendants. As, they do not want to send anyone to jail because of: overcrowding and the fact that this solution is not dealing with these challenges. Instead, the court has been focusing on reducing the total number of offenders by offering treatment options to them. This has been shown to reduce the total number of repeat offenders that are seen by the courts within two years.
Evidence of this can be seen with a study that was conducted by Peters (2000) he found that after examining the impact of Drug Courts around the country. That they were able to dramatically reduce, the total number of repeat offenders and those individuals who often engaged in substance abuse when they were released from the program. This is significant, because it is showing how this kind of court can address many of the problems that are impacting communities. The reason why, is because they are taking a different approach when concentrating on the problem. This allows judges to have greater amounts of authority in helping defendants to receive assistance vs. being classified as a common criminal. (Peters, 2000, pp. 72 -- 96)
Moreover, the research from Ngo (2010), is illustrating how Drug Courts are effective at helping to reduce the underlying levels of crime inside a community. However, in order for them to be effective means that there must be certain techniques that are embraced by judicial institutions most notably:
There needs to be increased interaction between defendants with court officials and law enforcement. This helps to prevent someone from going back into their old ways of life. The way that this is achieved is through having enough contact with personnel to realize that something must change. Once this occurs, is when they will be less inclined to become involved in activities that are destructive.
The kinds of drug testing should be changed to take into account urine, hair and blood. This will ensure that no one is able to beat any of these tests.
The court should encourage everyone to join other nonprofit support programs such as Narcotics Anonymous. This will increase the amounts of exposure that addicts will receive while they are in the process of changing their lives. (Ngo, 2006)
The information from these two sources is useful, because they are illustrating how Drug Courts can help communities to effectively deal with their lingering substance abuse problems. This is because, these kinds of judicial proceedings are concentrating on helping users to be able to seek out some kind of effective treatment options vs. going to jail. While at the same time, they have increased the overall amounts of monitoring and supervision. Over the course of time, the combination of these elements means that there will be lower amounts of recidivism. This is when the…
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