Problems of Systemic Racial Biases Within Drug Courts

"Importantly, representation of African-Americans in jails and prisons was nearly twice that of both Drug Courts and probation, and was also substantially higher among all arrestees for drug-related offenses. On one hand, these discrepancies might be explained by relevant differences in the populations. For example, minority arrestees might be more likely to have the types of prior convictions that could exclude them from eligibility for Drug Courts or probation. On the other hand, systemic differences in plea-bargaining, charging or sentencing practices might be having the practical effect of denying Drug Court and other community-based dispositions to otherwise needy and eligible minority citizens. Further research is needed to determine whether racial or ethnic minority citizens are being denied the opportunity for Drug Court for reasons that may be unrelated to their legitimate clinical needs or legal eligibility."


West Huddleston and Douglas B. Marlowe, "Painting the Current Picture: A National Report on Drug Courts and Other Problem Solving Court Programs in the United States" (Alexandria, VA: National Drug Court Institute, July 2011), NCJ 235776, p. 29.