|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Court system Criminal justice Social responsibility Drug abuse Social issue|
The first drug court was established in Miami-Dade, Florida, and its main target was to incorporate drug treatment into the criminal justice system. As such, the court was designed to treat offenders who had a history of drug addiction or abuse while at the same time ensuring that court sanctions and supervision are available. This court was established after a realization that numerous challenges arose when drug abuse was dealt with using law enforcement tactics. Also, there was a concern that out of the 43 percent of offenders with a drug problem in 2004, only 15 percent were receiving professional treatment. Also clear was the fact that drug-related offenses were continuously increasing in number and related costs, despite attempts to reduce the supply of drugs. Therefore, there was a resolve to establish drug courts to address the root cause of the drug problem. Currently, there are about 1600 drug courts spread across 50 states in the US. The drug court shift makes it necessary to analyze the features of these courts, the benefits that come with their use, and whether they are required.
Features of Drug Courts
One of the critical elements of a drug court is its legal framework, which consists of two main models; the post-adjudication programs and the deferred prosecution model. In the deferred prosecution model, defendants who meet specific requirements are transferred to the drug court system before pleading to their charges. In this program, there is no requirement for defendants to plead guilty of a charge (King, & Pasquarella, 2009). Also, after the successful completion of the program, there is no prosecution. However, the failure of termination leads to prosecution. On the other hand, in the post-adjudication model, there is a need for defendants to plead guilty after which their cases are deferred as they participate in the drug court program. Successful completion enhances a sentence waiver, while unsuccessful defendants are sentenced on the guilty plea.
Besides, a typical drug court program runs for a period of six months to a year, although some people take longer. Success is determined by zero arrests and zero drug use for a specified period through which there is constant monitoring. Another feature of drug courts is the eligibility criteria for defendants, which includes positive drug test results, drug possession charges, or drug abuse problems at the time of the arrest. Abstinence is monitored using frequent testing for alcohol and drugs (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, 2011). Sanctions are collective among participants who fail to adhere to the program requirements. Sanctions could range from jail terms, drug tests, and increased hearings.
Benefits of the Program
One of the main benefits of the drug court program is that it saves costs as compared to incarceration and probation. More of the taxpayers' money is saved through reduced prison occupancy and victimization costs, reduction of case processing costs, and reduce arrests. According to King, & Pasquarella, (2009), the average annual incarceration cost is $23,000 per inmate, while the average price of participation in a drug court per year is $4,300 per individual. Additionally, sanctions have a positive effect on the enhancement of compliance as they reward abstinence and encourage progress. This lacks in the normal courts as individuals understand that they have to wait until their sentences lapse to be free. Besides, evaluations reveal that drug court programs reduce recidivism compared to traditional courts. As such, there are lower rates of reconviction and arrest among graduates of drug courts.
Therefore, it is clear that the benefits of the drug courts exceed the costs associated with them, making them a crucial part of the criminal justice system. These courts promote behavior change and transform the system from a punishment-oriented perspective to a change-oriented one. In my opinion, there is a need for more specialized courts to replace the traditional courts as this will encourage change instead of victimization.
Generally, a good post that was informative and enjoyable to read. In addition to the aspects of mental health courts discussed, these courts exhibit several features. One of the significant characteristics of these courts is that they deal with a special type of cases that deal with defendants with mental illnesses who are directed to this court by police officers, jail staff, healthcare providers, friends, family members, defense attorneys, and prosecutor attorney (Wolff, Fabrikant & Belenko, 2011). The cases are dealt with by a group of professionals ranging from defense and prosecution attorneys, a judge, and a mental health professional or representative. Upon identification, these individuals are taken through a screening process to determine their eligibility and ability to participate in the program. Besides, they operate in connection with local mental health systems to provide professional assistance to mentally ill defendants. Individuals in these courts are monitored for compliance, and non-compliant ones are given sanctions.
Another essential feature of these courts is that some of the arrested individuals are granted a chance to undergo mental health courts instead of the traditional court system (Wolff, Fabrikant & Belenko, 2011). Individuals who take part in the mental health courts have three options such that they can go through criminal processing but forego sentencing, they can fail to go through criminal processing, or receive favorable sentences upon participation and successful completion of the MHC program.
King, R. S., & Pasquarella, J. (2009). Drug courts: A review of the evidence. Sentencing Project.
Siegel, L. J., Schmalleger, F., & Worrall, J. L. (2011). Courts and criminal justice in America. Pearson Prentice Hall.
Wolff, N., Fabrikant, N., & Belenko, S. (2011). Mental health courts and their selection processes: Modeling variation for consistency. Law and Human Behavior, 35(5), 402-412.
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