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March 29, 2006

A new challenge for drug courts

While the drug court movement seem to continue to grow and gather momentum, this local story from Pennslvania spotlights a challenge these programs can face:

The choice seems like a no-brainer: Go to jail or go through a drug treatment program that could turn your life around.  But more often than not, people who are eligible for Luzerne County's new drug court choose jail. 

"Our biggest problem has been that they don't want us, not that we don't want them," Carol Nicholas told fellow members of the county"s Drug and Alcohol Study Commission on Tuesday. "We're finding that clients that we're interviewing who have good criteria for drug court admission do not want to jump through those hoops," said Nicholas, a Catholic Social Services project director who helps oversee the drug court.  Nicholas offered one man's reaction: "He said, 'I'd rather sit in jail. I got my teeth fixed last time.'"

The hoops?  Participants must spend anywhere from 12 to 18 months proving that they can stay drug-free, complete intense drug treatment and become responsible citizens with full-time jobs, high school diplomas and adequate housing.  Participants must be over 18 and have committed only non-violent crimes as a result of their drug or alcohol addictions.  They must plead guilty, but the charges will be dismissed if they successfully graduate from the program.  Those who have committed serious or aggravated crimes of violence, drug trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual assault are barred from drug court....

Related posts discussing drug courts:

March 29, 2006 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

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Comments

My experiance with our mid size Ohio County Drug Court Program is that it employes a few more people, takes up some time and only really serves that rare person who is caught in a non violent lowest level drug possession case. Trafficing cases are not allowed. Prior offenders, even if they never went though the program, are not allowed and its all about numbers only.

We would be better served if the money was put into real treatment programs and the government gave up on the lost Drug War.

Posted by: F. S. Chamberlain | Apr 4, 2006 10:49:15 AM

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