Drug courts represent a relatively new phenomenon within the criminal justice system as both the federal and state governments intensify the fight against drug usage, trafficking and other drug-related offences in the US and effectively rehabilitate alcohol and drug offenders. This essay discussion paper looks at the history, role and philosophy behind drug courts creation in the context of the state of Texas.
According to a report by Martinez and Eisenberg (2002), the history of drug courts in Texas may be traced from 2001 when the Texas Legislature through the House Bill 1287 sanctioned the creation of drug courts and vested the Criminal Justice Policy Council with the mandate of examining the effectiveness of the courts. The CJPC was also to recommend on possible ways of improving and expanding the courts. The main role of the courts, according to these authors, was to “offer a court-supervised drug offender treatment and monitoring system as an alternative option to the traditional criminal sanctions” (Martinez & Eisenberg, 2002, p.3).
These authors further note that the first drug courts in the state of Texas were established in 1993 in the counties of Travis and Jefferson with other additional ones being put up later in Bexar, Montgomery, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, Hidalgo and El Paso counties in Texas. Marlowe (2003) also argues that the drug court system is grounded on the philosophy that by combining judicial drugs offender monitoring with supervised alcohol and drug offender treatment, the criminal justice system can more effectively reduce cases of drug crime and usage than reliance on separate judicial treatment or sanctions.
The state where I reside, Texas, utilizes drug courts and these have been successful so far in reducing recidivism rates. This is because the drug courts apply a non-adversarial approach to offenders, closely evaluate and monitor compliance with or deviation from program goals besides partnering with community organs and public agencies in the state of Texas. A study carried out by (Gallagher, Ivory, Carlton and Miller (2014) on drug courts in Indiana state also conclude that drug courts generally help reduce likelihood of drug offender recidivism. Based on the success story of drug courts in Texas in terms of its impacts on drug usage, crime and recidivism, I would recommend that all states make use of these courts as means of processing cases on drug usage that bedevil most stats in the US. It is such an innovative step in the criminal justice system treatment and dispensation of justice to drug offenders.
Gallagher, J. R., Ivory, E., Carlton, J., & Miller, J. W. (2014, Fall). The impact of an Indiana (United States) drug court on criminal recividivism. Journal of Advances in Social work, 15(2), 507-521.
Marlowe, D. B. (2003). Integrating substance abuse treatment and criminal justice supervision. Journal of Science Practical Perspectives, 2(1), 4-14. Retrieved January 10, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851043/
Martinez, A. I., & Eisenberg, M. (2002). Overview of drug courts in Texas. Austin, Texas: Criminal Justice Policy Council. Retrieved January 10, 2016, from http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Public_Safety_Criminal_Justice/Reports/drugcourt.pdf