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Recovery Court’s Treatment-Oriented Approach Designed to Ensure an Offender’s Long-Term Success

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Drug courts were designed to divert drug-involved offenders with less serious charges into treatment instead of prison

It is estimated that 78% of property crimes and 77% of public order offenses are related to drug or alcohol abuse, which costs the United States $74 billion a year. This includes the cost of police, court, prison, probation and parole services. Substance-involved offenders are more likely to recidivate than their sober peers. Proponents of the drug court model claim that it prevents recidivism while also saving a considerable amount of money. However, evaluation research is necessary to determine whether drug courts are truly effective.

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Modernization is evident throughout American society. No matter where one looks, evidence of this modernization can be seen. As time passes, everything must evolve so that it may stay relevant. If an emergency occurred, one would not have to send a letter to alert another person who was far away. Technology has evolved so that people can get into contact with one another in a matter of seconds. Man and woman, no matter the color of their skin, are equal. If a sheriff needs help apprehending a criminal, he does not round up a posse anymore. He can contact neighboring law enforcement agencies to assist him. If a registered sex offender moves to a new area, he must update law enforcement. Everything from technology and equality to law enforcement must change as time progresses. If one person steals another person’s car, they are not put to death. A solution is made to fit the action they have done. But when it comes to drug addiction, the solution is to lock substance abusers up and hope that they eventually become cured. But in reality this is not the case. America as a society treats substance abuse a criminal offense instead of a medical condition. Someone with a drug addiction gets locked up and serves their time. Yet when they get out of jail they have a tough time getting a job with the criminal stigma placed upon them. Their options become severely limited because of this. Drug addiction is a serious plague that is affecting the United States. The best way to combat this is not just to lock up every person who is addicted to drugs. That just starts a repetitive cycle that costs the American people more money and leads addicted individuals who can’t afford to go to expensive rehabilitation facilities being rearrested. The best way to solve this growing epidemic is not to turn to a regular court system which is designed to punish the criminal, but to a special court system designed to help the drug offender. “The goals of the drug court are to link defendants to community-based treatment and to reduce drug use and recidivism. Drug-involved defendants are offered structured, community-based treatment.

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Actors are positioned in the courtroom such that there is a liaison from the treatment team in the witness box and others moving back and forth across the bar. It is not odd, in fact in addition therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are called in the courtroom quite often for testimonial, assessment or support reasons. On quite many occasions, the judge relies on clinical knowledge to deliver their verdict. A good example is that of Toronto court, where the judge refuses to accept that a man on methadone was a victim of crack craving given that methadone should work to stop the cravings (Chrobo, 350). Judges also engage not only in clinical medical assessments, but also engage in psychological treatment knowledge in dealing with clients. This medical knowledge serves to help the judges deliver justified legal actions against clients. Crowns and duty counsel also make use of clinical knowledge. It applies mostly when a client faces expulsion from the program. It may be fuelled by several reasons such as, lying to the judge, breaching bail terms dealing drugs to other clients or failure to show motivation in the program (Foucalt, 18). Though rare, when eviction happens, it is based on lack of motivation in the program

A good example is in Toronto court where the eviction of a client is seen as a clinical best practice for a therapeutic non-responsive client rather than a punitive measure. The crown uses evidence that the client has shown poor quality in the recovery process, on the other hand, the counsel argues that the client can complete her recovery and should be able to remain in the program as all she needs is time to detox.

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Briefly, since the offender is in contact with a variety of persons who are supportive of treatment, there is a chain of custody within the offender’s daily interactions, leaving little time or possibility for offending that will go unnoticed

It is this aspect of increased human supervision that improves the treatment prognosis of the offender while also utilizing the community itself to maintain more effective supervision of the offender’s behaviors and activities. Thus, treatment staff and community members work together, hand-in-hand, to improve offender treatment outcomes.

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Chrobo, A.Sentencing Drug Addicted Offenders and the Toronto Drug Treatment Court. Criminal law Quarterly. (2002) 45:346-362

Foucalt, M. The Body of the condemned in Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books. (1977) 3-31.

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