Term Paper: Drug Courts the Department

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[. . .] The treatment providers are now left free to maintain the treatments and therapy necessary for the success of the program. It is their duty too to maintain communication with the Drug Courts about the progress of treatment and the resulting rewards and sanctions that would be awarded to the persons in the program. The stupendous success of the programs implemented by the Drug Courts of the U.S.A. may be due to, in large part, the strict implementation of rules and regulations to be followed by the drug users when they are within the program. The participant does follow the rules, of his own volition, and thus increases the effect of the program. 9

The rules are clear and stable and the participant's progress is measurable in terms of clear cut questions such as: did the person attend treatment or not, did he abstain from alcohol and drugs or not, did he appear in court when called upon or not, etc. After such evaluation methods, the results that are seen are immediately communicated to the leader or the judge, who immediately awards the necessary rewards or punishments to the participant according to the facts seen. A Drug Court of the U.S.A. has a set of key components that help it in its working. A Drug Court, for instance, has to perform a coordinated treatment in response to the offense committed by the drug user. This coordination would involve the team effort of a panel of judges, prosecutors, treatment and therapy providers, probation officials, and the general society as a whole. 10

9. Background on Technology and Drug Courts. Retrieved at http://www.drugcourttech.org/background_1_2.html. Accessed on 03/24/2004

10. Background on Technology and Drug Courts. Retrieved at http://www.drugcourttech.org/background_1_2.html. Accessed on 03/24/2004

The system of the Drug Courts is unique and valuable because it has the important function of influencing a person who has committed a crime under the influence of drugs or alcohol into agreeing to join a treatment plan that would be of benefit to him and his family. This influence on the offender is of tremendous importance and benefit since it is explained to him in the first moments after the arrest when the person is at his most vulnerable state. This serves to convince the offender to join the program and continue to be in it till the end, almost as if he had volunteered to join, himself. The next key component of a Drug Court is the fact that the prosecution and defense counsel, traditional adversaries, must coordinate their efforts and work together as one team with the judge as leader, to bring about the transformation of a habitual drug abuser into a rational human being. 11

The prosecutor must analyze the treatment of the offender and state whether he is suitable for the program or not. In this way, he safeguards the safety of the public. The defense counsel, on the other hand, must ensure the participation of the offender in the program and also evaluate his process rights. In case of non-compliance on the part of the abuser in the program, the prosecutor and the defense counsel must work together to deal with it in an effective manner that would be of benefit to the society as well as to the offender. The immense potential of the period of time after the arrest of an offender in influencing the person into taking up treatment for his AOD is demonstrated in the number of drug users who register in the program soon after their arrest, on the advice of their arresting officers. This fact is another component of the Drug Courts of the U.S.A. 12

11. Background on Technology and Drug Courts. Retrieved at http://www.drugcourttech.org/background_1_2.html. Accessed on 03/24/2004

12. Background on Technology and Drug Courts. Retrieved at http://www.drugcourttech.org/background_1_2.html. Accessed on 03/24/2004

The next factor is the continuity of treatment and rehabilitation offered by the Drug Courts. In fact, the treatment is begun as soon after the arrest as possible, in the courtroom, with the coordination and cooperation of judges, treatment providers, case managers and other officials. These people have the responsibility of seeing to it that the offender follows his mode of treatment religiously. The offering of awards and rewards or punishment and withdrawal of privileges must also be overseen by this team in order to achieve a successful impact on the offender. This team must also keep up with the drug user's use or misuse of the treatments offered to him. They must maintain the offender's state of abstinence by conducting regular tests on the person. This type of accurate testing of a person to check whether he has been using drugs or alcohol, in the recent past, proves to be a promoter of frankness and honesty among all the participants of the Drug Courts program. It also serves to involve the participant in the program fully, instead of him being just the mute recipient accepting of services rendered to him. 13

The next duty of the Drug Court is to organize a strategy that would, in effect, treat the person's return again and again to a habit that he cannot control or rule over: the use of drugs and alcohol. The program instituted by the Drug Courts aims at identifying the reasons behind the offender's cravings and his return to these harmful substances even after a long period of withdrawal and abstinence from such substances. The strategy helps the offender to develop the skills that are needed to fight these cravings and therefore helps him to overcome them to a certain extent. The offender learns to control his acute ambivalence towards treatment that a large number of drug users generally suffer from. The offender also learns to present himself for the treatment required by the Drug Courts by feeling himself rewarded or admonished for compliance and non-compliance respectively.

13. Background on Technology and Drug Courts. Retrieved at http://www.drugcourttech.org/background_1_2.html. Accessed on 03/24/2004

The next duty of the Drug Court is for the judge to play the important part of being the leader of the team effort. He must demonstrate his authority to the offenders. Often, tragically, this would be the very first time that an authority of the state would be showing his attention to the offender; in fact, this would be the first time that any body at all showed their affection or caring towards these deprived persons. This very act would put them onto the road to recovery in an effective manner. A Drug Court judge, therefore, should step out of his usual line of duty in order to encourage these individuals into recovering from their various addictions. He should also be knowledgeable about the various treatment methods being followed by treatment providers so that he could either appreciate or penalize appropriate or inappropriate behavior respectively. 14

Another objective of the Drug Courts is to build up an effective strategy based on perfect planning and the evaluation of the behavior of drug users. The program should list out all its long-term goals and demonstrate the ways and means of evaluating the results. This is in order to explain the procedures to the fund givers of the programs. All the staff involved, whether directly or indirectly in the program of the Drug Courts must be educated in the training methods to be used by the implementers of the program. This would help in building up discipline among the various people involved, such as court leaders, managers, judges, and other court personnel. In this way, every body involved in the program of the Drug Courts would be aware of the procedures and standards involved in drug testing methods and regulations. 15

14. Background on Technology and Drug Courts. Retrieved at http://www.drugcourttech.org/background_1_2.html. Accessed on 03/24/2004

15. Background on Technology and Drug Courts. Retrieved at http://www.drugcourttech.org/background_1_2.html. Accessed on 03/24/2004

The final key component in the functioning of the Drug Court of USA would be the necessity of the court to develop and forge coalitions between different organizations like private organizations, public criminal justice officers, and treatment providers of AOD. This sort of coordination provides a continuum to the abuser and to the general society in the evaluation and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse. This also helps to restore faith of the public in the Drug Court system of fighting and also helping drug abusers and offenders. These, then, are the various key components of any Drug Court program, as defined by the Department of Justice of the United States of America. 16

The different states of the U.S.A. differ in the concept and treatment of drug offenders. No two are alike in their treatments and the Drug Court of every state does differ in its objectives and the offender population that has been identified as needing treatment. For example, in the state of Alabama, three Drug Courts exist at present in Mobile, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa. The Administrative Office of Courts has been successful in planning and implementation of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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