Drug Court Isn’t Helping

Here are a couple of interesting new reports for you, both on the effectiveness of Drug Courts.

1. The Justice Policy Institute:

Addicted to Courts: How a Growing Dependence on Drug Courts Impacts People and Communities

America’s growing reliance on drug courts is an ineffective allocation of scarce state resources. Drug courts can needlessly widen the net of criminal justice involvement, and cannot replace the need for improved treatment services in the community. Of the nearly 8 million people in the U.S. reporting needing treatment for drug use, less than one fourth of people classified with substance abuse or a dependence on drugs and/or alcohol receives treatment, and for those who do receive treatment, over 37 percent are referred by the criminal justice system.

While drug courts may be a better justice system option than incarceration, they are still a justice system approach to a public health issue. Drug courts also are not the most effective way to help people who are struggling with addiction, and in many ways, only serve to “widen the net” of U.S. criminal justice control, which now stands at about 7 million people either incarcerated or on probation or parole.


2. The Drug Policy Alliance:

Drug Courts Are Not the Answer

Drug Courts Are Not the Answer: Toward a Health-Centered Approach to Drug Use. Drug Policy Alliance; March 2011.
Report released on March 22, 2011.

Drug Courts are Not the Answer finds that drug courts are an ineffective and inappropriate response to drug law violations. Many, all the way up to the Obama administration, consider the continued proliferation of drug courts to be a viable solution to the problem of mass arrests and incarceration of people who use drugs. Yet this report finds that drug courts do not reduce incarceration, do not improve public safety, and do not save money when compared to the wholly punitive model they seek to replace. The report calls for reducing the role of the criminal justice system in responding to drug use by expanding demonstrated health approaches, including harm reduction and drug treatment, and by working toward the removal of criminal penalties for drug use.


  • DeConstructor

    Drug court would prolly not be a bad idea, if the treatment offered was effective. In addition, if people with actual mental problems could recieve effective psychological help rather than religious indoctrination, sexual exploitation and the stopping of effective psyche meds, crime rates would certainly fall.

    Rather we have an anonymous system for criminals to network and come up with some really bad ideas.

    • jacent

      but the way they go about treating people is the problem. all they do is arrest and release the drug offenders and then expect them to come back for treatment.

  • AntiDenial

    I wonder what the people who wrote the report s take is on the mandatory guidelines
    for sending people to AA/NA which is against their constitutional rights?
    It is OUTRAGIOUS this is allowed to continue.Maybe a class action lawsuit against the Federal Goverment. I am going to read these to reports and comment more later.

  • joedrywall

    It seems that the courts need to be more aware of all the options for addicted folks, as well the other options will need to grow(thats the big thing is that everything else is not everywhere like the 12stepgroups). Your country needs more emphasis on health care, like we do in Canada(which is far from perfect). And most importantly there needs to be more emphasis on preventing addiction, and preventing illegal substances from getting into peoples hands.

  • Did anyone listen to the ” This American Life” episode today featuring Judge Amanda Williams, director of the Drug Court in Glynn and Camden county? The episode featuring Williams is titled “Very Tough Love.”According to This American Life’s website, the episode focused “a drug court program that we believe is run differently from every other drug court in the country, doing some things that are contrary to the very philosophy of drug court. The result? People with offenses that would get minimal or no sentences elsewhere sometimes end up in the system five to ten years.”

  • my bf listened to it and has been telling me to listen. i am not sure it it was a repeat. if so, i may have already heard it. either way, i am not sure i am strong enough to listen. the drug war, the tough love approach is all scaahthingly awful to me.

  • One of the problems with Drug Courts is that a minor offender can really have thier life turned upside down because of the Substance Abuse Questionnaire that they have you do. Normally the court does not force you into AA/NA outwardly. What they do is tell you that you have to have an evaluation and follow any recommended (read as “Suggested”) treatment to get off probation. Most of the time the fines are under $1000 and the probation is six to twelve months. The recommended treatment is often AA/NA and the offender usually spends considerable more on the treatment than the fine.

    When taking the questionnaire the offender is told that nothing they say can be used against them. They do not realize that the answers can send them to AA/NA and/or very expensive 28 day rehab. I am not saying this is wrong, but what about the first time offender that got caught experimenting? The questionnaires are flawed and made to be very tricky. They use what is called a “Subtle” questionnaire that does not seem to have anything to do with Alcohol or Drug abuse. Let me give you an example. If you answer 3 of these questions as yes you will be put in AA/NA. If you answer 5 or more yes you will most likely be put in intensive Rehab at your cost.

    1. Do you smoke?
    2. Have you ever been to an AA/NA meeting?
    3. Are any of your close relatives Alcoholics or drug Abusers?
    4. Do you have high blood pressure?
    5. Do you have any major illnesses?
    6. Has anyone ever complained about your drinking or drug use?
    7. Have you ever been arrested because of drinking/drugs?
    8. Do you sweat at night?
    9. Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?
    10. Do you have loose bowel movements?

    These are only a few of what they call “Subtle” questions on substance abuse. There are many more. These questionnaires are usually administered by 12 Steppers who have been trained in the Reid Technique of interviewing (read they lead you into admitting you have a big problem). The person who is not a “Real” Alcoholic or drug abuser is forced into a system that forces them to say they are. An unsuspecting law abiding citizen who made a mistake and may never do it again can be captured by the cult in this way.

    What started as a $500 court fine could end up with a $30,000 rehab bill that insurance will not pay for. This causes major depression and a self fulfilling prophesy and AA/NA loves it. Oh, you had to take a $30,000 mortgage out on your house because of your arrest and you say you are not an Alcoholic or Drug abuser? You are in Denial, don’t worry, we will change your mind…………………………..

  • chris

    AA will also tell you, NOBODY ends up at an AA meeting by accident. then poor dude is fucked, hahahaha, omg.

  • chris

    next thing you know, now they got HIM selling flowers at the airport, geez.

  • raysny

    I caught part of it.

    The podcast about drug court will be available Sunday after 7pm:

    One girl forged two of her father’s checks totaling $100. If she had gone to court, she most likely would have received probation and had her record expunged, instead she chose drug court and has been in and out of jail for the past 10 & ½ years. In solitary for an indeterminate amount of time, she ran out of the medications she had been prescribed by the drug court doctor and attempted suicide.

  • Jcal

    I was in drug court last week with a friend who got caught with a half of a gram of coke after a party. She had to post bail which was 10,000$ then get a lawyer 3,000$ then appear in court 7 times so far. It is a felony charge but was reduced to an A misdemeanor and giving to the drug court. People in drug court have to go once a week for normally a year. They show up and the probation officers at the court give them a piss test then they wait for the results. They then have to go in front of the judge and he asks them how they are doing or if they fail the test they go directly to jail. I think its a rather lousy way to deal with small time drug offences. Can you imagine going to court once a week for a year? It took us over an hour in the freezing cold to park and wait in line at the court. Then you have to wait to be called which took another hour and a half. Its a giant waste of time especially for someone who has a full time job.

  • SoberPJ

    A society that favors an abstinence model will only continue to increase the complexity and regulation (hence, cost) around drug and alcohol offences. The process is evidenced by simply examining what has happened since the 50’s. In the 50’s people that got caught driving drunk were more routinely let go or driven home. If they were taken to court, the fines and imposed sentences were generally minimal unless it was a repeat offender. Compare that to today and the no tolerance model and you can clearly see the progression. What does it look like in another 50 years? More technology. Wrist bracelets and ankle bracelets that not only report if you have used or drank, they will report your position and possibly your “state” – sleeping, high heart rate,anxiety, fear etc. Probation drug counselor – “I see you were at a known crack house and left with a high heart rate, but the monitor didn’t detect use of crack, can you explain that?”

    In reality, this whole drug and alcohol rehabilitation ecosystem is one huge experiment. And, the overall experiment has been going on for centuries. We’ve thrown religion, public humiliation, medication, psychotherapy, acupuncture, exercise and incarceration at it. Per the example above, we are now also throwing high costs at the problem – make it really expensive and inconvenient – that will do the trick.

  • chris

    This is going to be the next article for my paper coming out thur. march 30th, the title is “Addiction and Faith Healing” , If anyone in the Judicial system is wandering WHY people with alcohol or drug problems who are sentenced to Faith Healing orginizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous KEEP COMING BACK to court, stop wandering! Here is just a small example of what is taught at those meetings. 1. You are NOT responsible for your actions, you are POWERLESS. 2. Came to believe that ANYONE or ANYTHING other than yourself could restore you to SANITY. 3. Made a decision to let HIM-HER or IT do just that. Does this sound bizarre?, it does? That`s because it is. Other things that are taught as GOSPEL according to this TREATMENT are: If you don`t believe in a power greater than yourself, you can use a DOORKNOB or a TREE, until you believe. If you don`t give yourself COMPLETELY to this belief system, you are CONSTITUTIONALLY INCAPABLE OF BEING HONEST WITH YOURSELF, you must have been born that way. Sound even more ridiculous? That`s because it is. There are alternatives to Alcohol and Drug dependency that, Don`t have you relying on a Doorknob or a Tree until you believe in something.One of these is SMART Recovery, another is Rational Recovery, Secular Orginizations for Sobriety is another. The Sinclair Method, Science Based Medicine are acouple more. If you are person who is involved with A.A. or N.A. and you want an option, ANY option other than the one you are told YOU WILL DIE if you leave. Check out the options I`ve given, then make an informed decision to stay or go. If you want help in DE-PROGRAMMING yourself from these step methods, go to one of the sites that help people do that like, stinkin-thinkin.com. Also, if you don`t think the step programs are cults, try reading the Orange Papers. orange-papers.org

  • SoberPJ

    Chris..it’s “wondering” not “wandering” people wonder why, not wander why .. I might take you a little bit more seriously as a “journalist” if your spelling, grammar and punctuation didn’t need so much rudimentary help.. . Just sayin…..

  • anonymousofcourse


    That very court you mentioned had my daughter in county jail for a year and she ended up being convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. She spent so long in jail because she refused to plea guilty to a felony and go through the drug court. I don’t know what the other drug courts are like in the united states, but I know that Amanda’s drug court is expensive and it keeps people locked up. I, for one think that all non violent drug offenders need to be released from jail and the room saved for thieves, rapist and murders.

    Amanda Williams was just challenged in an election and her challenger’s main issue was the unjust, expensive drug court that Amanda runs. Unfortunately with undue praise from the press, Amanda’s drug court has a good reputation with those that have no idea what goes on in these proceedings.

    I would very much like to see that episode you mentioned. I’ll keep an eye out for a rerun.

  • chris

    i will spell check it, thank you. and im not a journalist. its just a side piece i do for the regular-main draw of county warrants., i admit, i have NO idea what im doing. its fun though and it pays well. you should of seen it when i first started.

  • chris

    i was wondering soberpj, how are you today?, ha.

  • SoberPJ

    Chris … good use of “wondering” … I use the following site from time-to-time and it could help you too. http://www.lousywriter.com/ Don’t let the name fool you. There are some good tips and advice there. If you have more stories like the air drumming counselor, you could have a book in ya. Never know,….

  • That’s a great link, PJ.

  • chris

    to soberpj, i have my friend proof what i write before it goes to print. thats what i wrote this morning. i know i cant spell and my grammar sucks. i dont send anything out before being proofed. u still hurt my feelings though at first read. im human, still adapting to taking criticism. before, i would have just thought fuck you. but, to be honest i dont like being corrected like that, cause i still take shit personal. like im a DEFECT or something.but, since ive come clean with, you hurt my feelings. the sting is less and NOW i will ALWAYS know how to use the word wondering. and i dont have to have a fuck you match with you in my head for the rest of the day, or week or month. haha

  • AnnaZed

    journalism 101: no ALL CAPS (ever)

  • chris

    no emphasizing, i geuss i use that to draw attention to the word.

  • chris

    i was going to go to school when i get to florida. maybe i`ll go to college to learn how to spell, first. then, maybe something else possibly.

  • chris

    learn something new everyday. today, i learned to express my feelings in an appropriate way and learned. i cant spell and my grammar sucks, haha.

  • AntiDenial

    Anonymous-do you why the person who challenged her felt her Drug Court
    was unfair? Any mention of mandated AA?

  • chris

    to soberpj: dont think that i have a fuck you attitude toward you now, because i dont.

  • Hey chris, I have taken so much criticism for my writing over the years that I actually welcome it if someone can tear up my stuff. If you can get past the sting of it, it’s the best thing in the world. Keep writing!

  • Lucy

    The drug courts and policies exist because they are very powerful lobbies to keep them that way. AA is used by them and uses them in return.

  • SoberPJ

    Chris.. ok, thanks… I’m obviously not a grammar teacher, but I expected a little better from someone who claims to “write”. Don’t know why, just a personal thing I guess.

    It will be great to watch the improvement … you could start by capitalizing ” I ” and then you will have learned a few things today 🙂

  • chris

    Well, PJ., wheel dew man. i was tryin to be polite and not tell you where to go, but. fuck off man, did you understand that spelling. did “I” spell fuck off right?

  • chris

    there, you learned something today too. you learned how i really feel. the 1st critique was kool, but, the 2nd you were just being a fuckin smart ass. i type with 1 finger and not overly concerned with punctuating every single little thing. i already told you i couldnt spell as well as others.

  • anonymousofcourse

    The drug court here does mandate meetings. Here is a link to Amanda Williams challenger Mary Ellen Moses campaign ads. Could give you an idea of the issues. It’s in PDF format and is located in google documents: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B9p3TJzco4oJMmYwMzk2ZTQtM2I3NS00OTg5LTkwNDAtNjVkOWMyNjZiOGQ3&hl=en

  • chris

    i apologize to ftg and ma and the new people that may visit this site for my use of language. not to the doushe bag who deserved it, and i didnt feel like looking up how to spell db,haha.

  • AnnaZed

    Chris, keep writing and screw the rules, though I would be relived if you dropped the all caps. There is almost nothing that can’t be tidied up in a reasonable editing process if you plan to publish or submit something academically. This, after all, is just a blog. Stream of consciousness rules ~ edit later if needs be.

  • SoberPJ

    Chris.. I was trying to be helpful and mainly for two reasons –

    1. You obviously need it and I like to be helpful to those in need.

    2. Pure selfishness. Poor spelling, grammar and punctuation is nearly painful for me to read.

    I will ignore you from here on out and I wish you well in all your endeavors.

  • chris

    I need help PJ?, Do I need your help PJ? You were only trying to help, you sound like you would make a terrific sponsor for those who need your help PJ. Thanks anyway, I`ll pass on your and AA`s need to help me.

  • Am I the only one watching Sopranos reruns this morning?

  • JD

    Chris, there are no rules. Other than using all caps. Anna doesn’t like you using all caps. And of course dressing up your grammar, punctuation, and spelling for PJ. But aside from what they don’t like, screw the rules, because we’re not about rules here.

    But suggestions, yes. Naturally, you can choose not to follow these suggestions. There’s no reason to get pissy about people suggesting things for your benefit. Just decline the help offered and the case is closed.

    No need for you to start a low rent blog dissing customary English usuage because some people tried to help you do better. Just let it drop and do things your own way.

    Oh, and the ‘I’ thing, of course. You don’t want to be painful to PJ.

  • Z

    @Chris note what PJ originally said — you may have a book in you.

    @AOC I am so sorry this happened to your daughter!

  • AndyM

    I think following the Portuguese example might be more sensible. Scientific American seem to think so too:

  • hulahoop

    friendthegirl says Am I the only one watching Sopranos reruns this morning?

    I used to LOVE that show! I miss it so much. I used to schedule my Sunday nights around it. I can’t deal with the hacked up reruns though. It just isn’t the same.

  • altrecovery

    AA is just going to do what they always do, which is fish peoples’ psyche for problems (a destructive process which will probably involve more drug use, alcohol abuse, etc), and push them to the limits to get them to surrender.

    So what America is faced with is a teenager with a joint getting thrown into a system that demands complete psychic revolution, and doesn’t care what problems an individual has to go through to get that. That’s how AA works.

    Drunk driving is the same principle, although people do hate drunk driving. However, consider that someone who is caught with a .14 BAC is not really causing that much danger. But if they go through the psychic revolution of AA, they’re likely to become much worse before they get better. They’ll hit ‘Rock Bottom’. And in the meantime, perhaps drive drunk and kill someone. All their fault, right?

    Wait, the system is designed to create a psychic revolution, a ‘spiritual awakening’, so if we are forcing someone to go through that, and that person has problems along the way…. then whose fault is it? AA doesn’t care, as long as it’s not theirs.

    All of this is kosher as long as everyone knows what goes on. You have a terrible drunk driver… well, punish her and send her to re-education camp. But now you have a teenager with a joint. What do you want?

    America wants punishment and blood, and instinctively, they know sending people to 12 step programs is exactly the recipe for that dish.

  • altrecovery

    Plus, this place is absolutely reeking of AA trolldom.

  • Z

    @altrecovery, very interesting, esp. (to me) this: “America wants punishment and blood, and instinctively, they know sending people to 12 step programs is exactly the recipe for that dish.”

  • chris

    i always thought they didnt want you to get in a relationship because that would become your new drug, and you would split. they dont want you going anywhere.

  • chris

    What I meant to say was, I always thought they did`nt want you to get into a relationship because that would become your new drug and you would split. They don`t want you going anywhere.

  • chris

    What I meant to say is,….Fuck proper grammar.

  • SoberPJ

    @ Alt… forcing a psychic revolution … interesting. They actually say they are creating a psychic change, so shouldn’t there be a license associated with that? Isn’t that what psychiatrists do? And, they have to go to school for years to earn the right to even toy with somebodies head. But along comes Mr or Ms AA with nothing but a couple months of delusional Big Book garbage and bears down on the confused drunkard with all the 12 Step faith healing non sense. It really is an amazingly messed up system.

  • Ben Franklin

    Yeah JD there are no rules here. There may be unwritten rules like don’t be a douchebag and try to use logic to the best of your ability. Also, when someone points out something that you are saying seems contrived or doesn’t make any sense, then please reply to them instead of doing the”duck and cover” routine.

    There seemed to be no rules in your household when your tween son was getting smashed while you were presumably doing 12 step calls. This is something you will not explain. I really don’t know why you even brought your son up, possibly to qualify your story, but since you did I need to point out some things. 1) If you son does not exist ( I hope so) then that makes you a liar or 2) If your son does exist then that makes you a shitty parent and calls into question the validity of the program you hold so dear. In any event, you have given up the moral high ground and it renders your posts basically useless meanderings of an obtuse and belligerent stepper. You don’t seem to be able to grasp the simple facts that I just layed out for you: You Lose.
    Personally, I think you should stop posting, change your avatar and come back with some more contrived stories. That would be great fun!

  • Z

    “obtuse and belligerent”

    Yes, that characterizes the discourse of stepping quite well. Why people so spiritually evolved, serene, and so on have those characteristics, is not clear to me.

  • “Plus, this place is absolutely reeking of AA trolldom.”


  • AndyM

    A bit of a side issue, but I found this movie on youtube interesting ( I wont make the mistake again of posting a link to a movie, but it’s called:
    The Union- The Business Behind Getting High Full Movie.

  • AntiDenial

    Chris- I find your language horrible. Why cant you make your point without all the cussing?
    I would really appreciate it if you toned the language down. Plus people will take you more seriously.

  • chris

    To ANTIDENIAL:, I apologized for that and won`t again.

  • AntiDenial