aclu-logo

Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

Are More Drug Courts Really The Answer?

An interesting new policy report by the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that advocates for a public health approach to drug policy, questions the long-term efficacy of drug courts in reducing prisoners' return to jail or prison. The report also discusses evidence that drug courts may not be producing the intended or expected cost-savings benefits.

You can read the full report yourself here: http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Drug%20Courts%20Are%20Not%20the%20Answer_Final2.pdf

The ACLU of Maine also recently featured this blog post that mentioned how new proposes drug courts in Maine may not be the ultimate answer to that state's overincarceration problems.

Certainly, drug courts - and other "special courts" that cater to particular populations, such as mental health courts and veterans' courts - have helped to divert many people from incarceration. That's a good thing! However, putting individuals with drug and mental health problems through the court system at all may not be the best course of action. Ultimately, these individuals should be receiving treatment and support - not heavy-handed government supervision, with the looming threat of time spent behind bars.

Utah has a drug court system that is funded by the state legislature via the Drug Offender Reform Act. DORA is based on the premise that "treatment works," and we could not agree more. We question, however, whether people in need of treatment should need to be processed through the criminal justice system in order to receive it.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the efficacy of drug courts and other "special courts" with us by emailing Anna Brower, ACLU of Utah Public Policy Advocate, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..