A report released by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers claims that drug courts aren’t working as intended.
According to the NACDL, in a statement released along with its report, said “Drug courts — first created 20 years ago as an emergency response to an epidemic of drug-related criminal cases that clogged courts and prisons — have in many places become an obstacle to making cost-efficient drug abuse therapy available to addicts and reducing criminal case loads.”
Part of the problem, the NACDL asserts, is that drug courts frequently bypass the toughest cases.
“Well-intended prosecutors and judges, generally with little input from the defense bar, often limit entry to treatment to offenders most likely to solve their own problems while insisting that ‘harder cases’ go to jail, at considerable taxpayer expense. … Minorities, immigrants and those with few financial resources are often under-represented in drug court programs,” the NACDL continued.
The report recommends:
— Treating substance abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice one
— Opening admission criteria to all those who need, want and request treatment
— Enforcing greater transparency in admission practices and relying on expert assessments, not merely the judgment of prosecutors
— Prohibiting the requirement of guilty pleas as the price of admission
— Urging greater involvement of the defense bar to create programs that preserve the rights of the accused
— Considering the ethical obligations of defense lawyers to their client even if they choose court-directed treatment
— Opening a serious national discussion on decriminalizing low-level drug use