Course Description 20

Drug Treatment Courts: An Integrated Approach
Diane Sherman, Ph.D., NCAC-II
Course Description:

In the late 1980’s drug courts were implemented as a response to provide an intervention for non-violent substance abusing offenders. Notably, the Miami/Dade County Drug Court was the first court implemented. It has been operational since 1989 when the Honorable Judge Herbert M. Klein continued to experience repeated and detrimental effects of drug offenses within his circuit. He “became determined to solve the problem of larger numbers of people on drugs.” (Miami’s Drug Court: A Different Approach, 1993) This drug court has become a model program for the Nation (National Criminal Justice Reference Service, n.d.).

Trends reveal substance-abusing offenders, who were also returning to the legal system repeatedly, have heavily affected the criminal justice system. Many offenders were committing non-violent crimes related to alcohol or other drug charges. The traditional adversarial system of justice was ineffective at addressing substance abuse issues. At the same time, treatment and continued support for substance abusers, has diminished greatly, in both the private and public system. The innovation of drug court treatment combined with legal case processing increases the participant’s accountability while providing long-term treatment to assist in behavioral change through sustained program support. Potential outcomes of supportive court monitoring combined with treatment suggest the offender will experience a change in behavior and decrease recidivism (National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 2000; Senjo & Leip, 2001)

Drug treatment courts ensure the full involvement of the key stakeholders. The primary stakeholders include a presiding judge and sometimes an alternate judge, designated to oversee all proceedings of the drug court process, prosecution, defense counsel, law enforcement, police / sheriff department, probation, correctional staff, community partners, and substance abuse treatment representatives. Combined, the drug court team directs a mandated process of accountability and treatment of the drug court participant in an effort to accomplish three outcomes: (1) reduce recidivism, (2) provide treatment, and (3) accountability of the offender. In exchange for involved participation in drug treatment court, the offender may be offered a variety of outcomes depending upon the individual program (U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Courts Program Office, 1997).

In this course we will examine drug courts from an integrated process – the blending of treatment with legal case processing. Additional topics reviewed will include screening and assessment of adult substance abusing offenders, ethical issues for drug court practitioners, and the key components for drug and other specialty courts.

This four week course requires 8 hours of work over its duration.

This course is not scheduled at this time

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