Global Recovery: Where International Justice Meets the Drug Court Model

Map of the world

The first drug court was established in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and was designed to tackle the cocaine epidemic that had overtaken the region. This first drug court provided an alternative response to mass incarceration and added a facet to American justice that hadn’t yet been seen. Miami-Dade’s model imparted the idea that offending rates could be reduced without the severe punishment of jail or prison. In addition, it emphasized the notion that treating the root causes of crime, including mental health and addiction issues, could not only achieve the same results as traditional justice, but could actually surpass them.

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Drug Treatment Courts Should Take Notice of Evolving Views on Marijuana Legalization and Decriminalization

A marijuana leaf. Marijuana decriminalization and legalization is not a new issue. In one way or another, policy makers have been grappling with it since the 1970s. With election politics starting to heat up in the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections, the issue is again being thrust into the spotlight. The vast majority of democratic candidates have taken positions and proposed policies that – to differing degrees – seek to reform the way the US criminal justice system sanctions recreational marijuana use.[1]

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Let’s Get Your History

Preeti Menon and colleague, Zephi Francis outside of court house.On recent visits to three drug courts in three different states, the concept of moving away from a traditional cookie-cutter approach to treatment for participants came up. In several conversations, drug court teams discussed the idea of working with participants to identify and better understand their unique needs. From that inquiry and conversation, drug court teams could develop a treatment plan tailored to the participant’s unique individual history, circumstances, and needs.

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Offering Support and a Chance at Recovery

An image of a courtroom.I first learned about the issues that can arise with the over-consumption of alcohol in a freshmen seminar in college. Before that, I had no formal introduction or training on the negative consequences that can result from drinking and driving. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI) are increasingly becoming a national issue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 48 minutes in 2017.”1 People who are proven guilty of DUI/DWI can then end up in treatment courts.

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Healing While Defending Right to Counsel

Preeti Menon R2C sign

For those who work in the treatment court field, how often is a public defender part of your drug treatment court team? If your answer is “sometimes,” “not often,” or “not at all,” please continue to read. If your answer is “always,” kudos to you; please share this blog post and your stories with us.

Drug treatment courts use a specialized model for people facing criminal drug charges who live with serious substance use and mental health disorders. Drug court teams, which comprise members of the judiciary, prosecution, defense bar, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social services, and treatment communities, work together to help addicted offenders get into long-term recovery. As part of the drug treatment court team, public defenders participate in the team meetings and often provides input in his/her client’s treatment plan.

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