Juvenile Drug Courts

Drug Courts came about as a result of a backlogged court system and a steady, rapidly increasing prison population. Drug courts are a form of diversion that helps the offender through rehabilitation and the community through an increased sense of protection, which serves the best interest of everyone. "Drug Courts are community based intermediate sanctions that incorporate treatment principles into the Criminal Justice System and divert drug offenders from traditional punishments of probation and prison. The objective of drug courts programs is to treat the underlying problems of addiction among drug offenders and eliminate participants' future drug use and crime (Cresswell, Deschenes, 2001, 259)."
Drug courts came about as a result of the 1980's "war on drugs" where all levels of government came together to crack down on an epidemic of crack-cocaine use that had society believing that drugs were the main problem of the criminal justice system (Burdon, Roll, Prendergast, & Rawson, 2001). Courts on state and federal levels were overburdened and overloaded with drug cases, thus prison populations began to swell at an amazing rate as well. According to statistics "the number of adults arrested for drug-related violations increased 273% between 1980 and 1995, in the same period, the percentage of prisoners in the custody of state correctional authorities for drug offenses increased from 6.4% to 22.7% (Burdon et al. 2001)".
With this rate of increase in drug offenses going through the courts system, something had to be done to manage the large number of cases that were only related to drugs. In the beginning, drug courts were only used to alleviate the overcrowding in the court system and paid no attention to treating the offender or their drug problem.
In 1989, Janet Reno and Timothy Murray began a drug court program in Dade County, Florida that became a prototype for the nation (Listwan, Sch…

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