Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Drug Courts: All You Could Ever Want to Know

Today the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on drug courts, which may get some more media attention because actor Martin Sheen (famous as ex-West Wing president Josiah Bartlett and real-life father of Charlie Sheen) was on hand to testify.  He's a big supporter of this alternative to incarceration, which now exists in some form in all 50 states.  

Along with the hearing, the Center for Court Innovation just released this interesting study on drug courts and their effectiveness.  Among other things, the report finds that drug courts reduce drug relapses and crime and benefit virtually any type of offender. 

Not everyone is a fan of drug courts, but I do think it's interesting to compare them with mandatory, one-size-fits-all prison sentences -- which haven't been proven to reduce drug use or crime, despite 25 years of effort.

-- Stowe


Michael Connelly said...

Please don't make too much of the drug court report. It showed what we already know, that good drug courts do good work. It didn't show how many and which drug courts are good. The criticisms of drug courts are based on the problem that the drug courts and their sponsoring state departments which advocate for them also control the data about them and the analyses done of it. The report we need is a review not of drug courts which meet the criteria laid out in this report but of a random selection of all drug courts so the distinctions about which are good and which are not are laid out clearly, allowing us to hold the bad ones (which do exist in large numbers) more accountable. The head of the CCI actually has a great book out on criminal justice reform which features how and why the Minneapolis drug court failed. Statistical and qualitative review of all drug courts along that line will give us the info we need to evaluate well, not this report, which will instead be used by mediocre and bad drug courts to build political support and continue their ineffective ways.

pswsobe said...

Amazing. In Florida they love the minimum sentencing. Of course we r such a republican state!!!