"The drug court movement reflects a desire to shift the emphasis from attempting to combat drug crimes by reducing the supply of drugs to addressing the demand for drugs through the treatment of addiction. Drug courts use the criminal justice system to address addiction through an integrated set of social and legal services instead of solely relying upon sanctions through incarceration or probation."
Drug Courts & Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration
(Comparison of the Drug Court Model With Standard Court Models) "The Drug Court model includes a higher level of supervision, particularly by the Court and (generally) a standardized treatment program for all the participants within a particular court (including phases that each participant must pass through by meeting certain goals). There is also regular and frequent drug testing.
("Fundamentally Unprincipled") In a North Carolina Law Review article, Colorado Judge Morris B. Hoffman writes, "By existing simply to appease two so diametric and irreconcilable sets of principles, drug courts are fundamentally unprincipled.
(Managed Care) "It is unlikely that the level and intensity of services required for drug court participants will be supported by managed care. Pressures to reduce treatment expenditures and manage costs associated with Medicaid are driving States to shorten length of stay in treatment and increasing the thresholds for admission to intensive treatment."
(Impact of Managed Care) It is possible that managed care will become a barrier to the success of drug courts and treatment as alternative to incarceration. The National Institute of Justice notes, "The premise of managed care, increasingly the norm, is that the least treatment required should be provided. This is at odds with research on substance abuse treatment, which has shown that the longer a person remains in treatment, the more successful treatment will be.
(Reliability of Screening and Assessment) "Drug courts report that screening, assessing, and determining drug court eligibility occur quickly, and most participants are able to enter treatment less than 2 weeks after drug court admission. However, not all drug courts use screening or assessment instruments that have proved reliable and valid, and some do not appear to use appropriate clinically trained staff to conduct assessments."
(Limited Access to Treatment and Specialized Services) "The greatest frustrations described by drug courts include limited access to residential treatment, treatment for mental health disorders, and specialized services for women, racial and ethnic minorities, and the mentally ill. Problems with client engagement and retention in treatment are also identified. Followup interviews with a sample of respondents suggest that, while services may be available, they may be limited in quantity or otherwise very difficult to access."
"As with drugs themselves, however, the promises of drug courts to not measure up to their harsh reality. They are compromising deep-seated legal values, including the doctrine of separation of powers, the idea that truth is best discovered in the fires of advocacy, and the traditional role of judges as quiet, rational arbiters of the truth-finding process."