Drug Control and the Courts / Edition 1

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Prisons are bursting at the seams, filled with drug-abusing criminal offenders as a result of the continuing "war on drugs." Yet rates of drug use among these offenders continue to skyrocket, showing that incarceration alone proves an inadequate solution. Faced with a drug crisis, what options do the courts have to deal with this problem population? Offering a unique perspective, Drug Control and the Courts skillfully examines the history, development, and current status of drug control programs and the criminal justice system. This cutting-edge volume identifies notable trends--such as the growing need for HIV and AIDS screening among offenders and the documented success of compulsory and coerced drug treatment programs--that can strongly influence criminal justice procedures for dealing with drug-involved offenders. Authors James A. Inciardi, Duane C. McBride, and James E. Rivers critically examine successful programs and push for expanding the coordinated efforts of the courts and drug abuse treatment services. Featuring the combined expertise of the authors, the analysis in Drug Control and the Courts will be of interest to students in criminology, criminal justice, and sociology as well as researchers, practitioners, academics, and policymakers.
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Editorial Reviews

A timely history of drug use and criminal activity in America presenting research which indicates that cocaine is the drug of choice among street criminals. In this context, the authors recommend expanding the coordinated efforts of the courts and drug abuse treatment services, arguing for coerced treatment and HIV and AIDS screening among offenders. Their evaluation of "drug courts" includes a specific Miami case study. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kenneth J. Meier
DRUG CONTROL AND THE COURTS is an examination of drug courts, but not drug courts as the term is normally understood, that is, criminal courts that deal only with drug-related cases. Inciardi, McBride and Rivers use the term "drug courts" to refer to courts that take an active role in overseeing and supervising individuals in the treatment process. These individuals, often first offense, nonviolent offenders, are given the option of standing trial or being diverted into a drug treatment program that is overseen by a judge. In a sense the judge becomes the offender's case worker, a combination parole officer, counselor, and judge. The authors conclude (p. 88) "Drug courts--as a means of organizing, 'recruiting,' and improving retention and outcomes in their associated rehabilitation programs--hold great promise." Despite this optimism and the summary of a drug court evaluation from Miami, little data are presented to indicate that drug courts are effective. The authors are well schooled in the program evaluation literature and provide a list of 16 indicators of whether or not drug court programs actually work. As a hypothetical design for program evaluation, their outline is without flaw. In practice, however, few of these sixteen indicators are measured. What the reader wants to know is this: Do participants in these programs have more or less success in staying off drugs than individuals who do not participate? The best indicator for the Miami program (but surprisingly absent for the other programs discussed) is the rearrest rate. Within one year 20% of the participants were rearrested for a drug offense and 32% for any felony offense; the comparison figures for individuals not in this program were 23% and 33%. The differences are not statistically significant. At the same time the Miami program was criticized by local media for having "failed to keep track of program participants, for not keeping accurate records," and for quickly moving offenders back onto the streets. In short, a program of questionable success and hardly one that should be held out as a model for other jurisdictions to use. Despite the failure of the authors’ main thesis, there are some strong points that make the book worth reading. The authors argue that at the present time, and historically, there are two types of drug users. One is a casual user who might commit crimes to support a drug habit, but generally is nonviolent and not a major contributor to crime. The other has a long criminal record and an addictive drug habit. In the later case the criminal behavior normally precedes drug use, but they eventually become so entwined that determining causality is not possible. This insight, corroborated from historical sources and current studies, could well be used to determine which individuals might benefit from treatment (and drug courts). This conclusion, however, is left implied rather than taken as the explicit motivation for the book. The authors, trained as sociologists, do an excellent job of setting drug control and drug treatment in its historical and social context. The role of the courts in the early establishment of punitive approaches is well documented. What is missing is the current role of the courts in drug control policy that is not treatment oriented. Just as courts played a role in the early rejection of the medical model (i. e., treatment) of drug abuse in favor of the criminal model (i.e., punishment), courts have been willing participants in the same process in recent years. While this is not the book the authors intended to write, it is a book that would be a major contribution to understanding current drug control policy and the role that courts play in it. The authors make a persuasive argument that the hardcore user has a history of frequent arrests. This makes the court system the ideal choke point to apply coercion to force individuals into treatment (a full discussion of the legal issues involved in such coercion is presented). Yet at the same time the authors fail to grapple with the actual operation of such programs, which often cannot or will not take the hard core multi-drug user. In regard to such programs in the 1970s (p. 42), "The concept of a first offender/heroin user turned out to be an oxymoron: There was simply no such thing." In a similar vein the authors do not tell the reader how one persuades judges ("the last stronghold of feudalism in the United States" p. 59) to give up their judicial role to become a social worker. DRUG CONTROL AND THE COURTS is a relatively short book, only 90 pages of text, that is clearly written. It would be useful as a supplement in a criminal justice class to raise questions about alternatives to incarceration and to probe issues of program evaluation. It could also be used as a supplement in judicial process classes to illustrate how different roles for judges could be created. For the more advanced student, an excellent bibliography provides the starting point for a fuller assessment of the role that courts have played in drug treatment policy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803954779
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 3/5/1996
  • Series: Drugs, Health, and Social Policy Series , #3
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Drugs-Crime Linkages 1
2 Legal Coercion and Drug Treatment 19
3 Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime 35
4 Drug Courts and Drug Treatment 61
Appendix A: Proceedings in the Miami Drug Court 91
Appendix B: The Miami Drug Court Evaluation 95
References 105
Cases 117
Index 119
About the Authors 129
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