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Drug Treatment Courts in the Twenty-First Century: The Evolution of the Revolution in Problem-Solving Courts

NCJ Number
Georgia Law Review Volume: 42 Issue: 3 Dated: Spring 2008 Pages: 717-811
Peggy Fulton Hora; Theodore Stalcup
Date Published
94 pages
Part I of this article discusses the evolution and success of drug treatment courts within the United States and their diversion from the traditional criminal justice system in an attempt to tackle America's drug problem.
Drug treatment courts are an excellent example of a successful deviation from established practice. Drug courts were created by sitting criminal court judges, overwhelmed and appalled by the real world they saw before them each day. Not only do drug treatment courts introduce new concepts and practices to the legal community, but they do so while protecting the defendant's procedural and substantive rights. Participants are given a choice between the traditional and time-honored criminal justice system and treatment for their addiction. As long as drug treatment courts are adequately funded, they will continue to serve the ultimate goals of the criminal justice system, returning productive and sober members of society. This article addresses and rebuts the criticisms of drug treatment courts and the assumptions their authors rely on in formulating their arguments of critics. These issues are addressed and recommendations made based on those concerns for the improvement of drug treatment courts. Part II of the article addresses critics' concerns about the disease model of addiction and the effectiveness of treatment for substance abusers, especially in a drug court setting. Part III discusses the legal issues surrounding the right to refuse treatment and the distinctions between cases where this issue has traditionally arisen and treatment in the drug court context. Concern over the potential for unchecked judicial discretion and the variety of safeguards in place to protect drug treatment court participants is discussed in Part IV. Part V reconciles the role of defense in drug treatment courts with the requirement of diligent advocacy. Economic concerns and whether drug treatment courts represent an adequate return on investment is discussed in Part VI. Part VII provides future recommendations, and Part VIII concludes that drug treatment courts are a strong alternative to incarceration and an effective mechanism in dealing with America's drug problem.


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