Treatment Oriented Drug Courts
Drug courts are an important component of the 1994 Crime Bill passed by Congress. The program works to keep non-violent drug users out of prison and in drug treatment programs. The treatment is ordered by the court in exchange for deferring prosecution of the case. Treatment-oriented drug courts treat non-violent drug dependent defendants ass individuals in need of treatment rather than prosecution. Once the defendant has successfully completed the court ordered drug treatment, the drug court can dismiss the current charges. Many communities are creating drug courts to address the problem of prison overcrowding and log jam of cases in the court system. In 1991, there were one million arrests for drug offenses, a 56% increase since 1982. Law enforcement agencies had begun to crack down on street dealers and users, believing that the 'get tough' policy would stem the tide of drugs that flooded neighborhoods across the country. But the results had been prison overcrowding and little change in the habits of the addicts themselves. In 19089 the city of Miami, having recognized the realities of drug usage, implemented the first drug court program. The court-ordered treatment and rehabilitation program offers several treatment modalities from which defendants can choose. The choices include individual and group counseling, attendance at fellowship meetings, and even acupuncture. Increasingly, families are included in the treatment plan. The likelihood of relapse is built into drug court programs, but defendants who are uncooperative in completing the treatment program may be jailed. In Miami, judges have access to every offender's treatment record, and can tell with a keystroke if the defendant has attended every clinic appointment and counseling session. He can tell if the defendant has passed the most recent urine test. Coalitions who want to work towards implementation of drug courts in their own communities can use this step-by-step guide to realize that goal.