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A Model For Other Courts? Addicts Get Treatment Over Jail

Drug diversion courts around the country offer offenders a chance for redemption, rather than recidivism. After acknowledging guilt for crimes like low-level dealing or stealing to support addictions, addicts can volunteer for nine to 18 months of urine testing, group therapy, mandatory sobriety meetings, intensely supervised by a judge. Those that don't make it through, can end up in jail. But if the program is completed, the offender transforms from a criminal to a drug court graduate, supported by invested judges, and congratulated by a supportive courtroom.

Today's New York Times weighed the pros and cons of the program. Proponents of that drug court say that not only is treatment more compassionate than prison, but it saves taxpayers money! To see how, and for some arguments against the practice

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Recidivism rates, aka the number of people getting sent back to prison, is cut by 10 to 20 percent among participants. Keeping addicts from coming back to pricey prison helps cut government costs.

Critics have diverse opposition – some say that requiring a guilty plea compromises the rights of defendants, and some think giving treatment slots to criminals takes resources away from other addicts who seek help. Still others say the judge's supervision is paternalistic and degrading.

If treatment works better than prison, should the government just decriminalize drugs?

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Michelann Michelann 7 years
I guess I should add that I know mental disorder and mental illness are more or less the same thing, but I'm tired of the attitude that addiction is something that can't be helped. Addicts made the choices that got them into the position.
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Jessie, I'm not advocating we ignore the mentally ill, I'm advocating that we allow society (through charity) to do the job. I think that is the more effective, more efficient, and more moral method of handling the problem. As I told Snow in a PM, it does not make you a good person to vote to give away somebody else's money. If all the people who already donate to charity get together with all those people who vote for social welfare programs, and donate their time and money, we can have a private system that is just as effective as our current public system. And we wouldn't have to steal hard-earned money to do it. And I hate to be overly technical, but being included in the DSM makes substance abuse a mental <b>disorder</b>, not necessarily a mental illness. As I've stated before, I'm aware that prison time isn't a great treatment for drug addiction, but jail/prison isn't meant to be a treatment, it's meant to be a punishment for the crime (such as stealing).
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Jessie, I'm not advocating we ignore the mentally ill, I'm advocating that we allow society (through charity) to do the job. I think that is the more effective, more efficient, and more moral method of handling the problem. As I told Snow in a PM, it does not make you a good person to vote to give away somebody else's money. If all the people who already donate to charity get together with all those people who vote for social welfare programs, and donate their time and money, we can have a private system that is just as effective as our current public system. And we wouldn't have to steal hard-earned money to do it. And I hate to be overly technical, but being included in the DSM makes substance abuse a mental disorder, not necessarily a mental illness. As I've stated before, I'm aware that prison time isn't a great treatment for drug addiction, but jail/prison isn't meant to be a treatment, it's meant to be a punishment for the crime (such as stealing).
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 7 years
Substance Abuse is in the DSM-IV and is considered a mental illness, so I think you need to get it right in your head. Michelin it is in everyones interest who works to treat the mentally ill. If someone who has schizophrenia stabs me on the street during a hallucination when they should have been in a mental hospital I am going to wish I helped pay for them to be treated. I am so sick of this every man for themselves attitude. Socially and economically we are all effected by each other and to pretend that isn't true is reckless. I won't even bring up ideas of good will and compassion. It isn't about punishing people less. It is about treating the real problem so that it won't happen again. If you steal cause your greedy or lazy, maybe jail will set you straight. If you steal because you have a drug problem, no amount of jail time is going to get through to your addicted brain. Either consequence, treatment or jail, cost the tax payers money. I rather pick the one that keeps my possessions safe and helps someone else. The government provides care for children whose parents can't. It is called foster care. There is a precedence in this country for helping people who can't help themselves. To say government shouldn't be involved in mental hospitals isn't consistent with this country's standards.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 7 years
Substance Abuse is in the DSM-IV and is considered a mental illness, so I think you need to get it right in your head.Michelin it is in everyones interest who works to treat the mentally ill. If someone who has schizophrenia stabs me on the street during a hallucination when they should have been in a mental hospital I am going to wish I helped pay for them to be treated. I am so sick of this every man for themselves attitude. Socially and economically we are all effected by each other and to pretend that isn't true is reckless. I won't even bring up ideas of good will and compassion.It isn't about punishing people less. It is about treating the real problem so that it won't happen again. If you steal cause your greedy or lazy, maybe jail will set you straight. If you steal because you have a drug problem, no amount of jail time is going to get through to your addicted brain. Either consequence, treatment or jail, cost the tax payers money. I rather pick the one that keeps my possessions safe and helps someone else.The government provides care for children whose parents can't. It is called foster care. There is a precedence in this country for helping people who can't help themselves. To say government shouldn't be involved in mental hospitals isn't consistent with this country's standards.
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snowbunny, perhaps this issue is too personal for you to see that it is a character attack to accuse another person of wanting to murder mentally ill people. I've heard many sad stories. Your mother's story is one of them. But it is not a complete stranger's responsibility to work so that your mother can be treated.
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snowbunny, perhaps this issue is too personal for you to see that it is a character attack to accuse another person of wanting to murder mentally ill people. I've heard many sad stories. Your mother's story is one of them. But it is not a complete stranger's responsibility to work so that your mother can be treated.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Okay, well considering that it IS a crime, which solution do you prefer? The one that spends more money for a less effective method (prison), or the one that spends less money for a more effective method, (treatment)? I get that theoretically, you believe that all drugs should be decriminalized, but do does this make you incapable of choosing between two very real options that cities are debating right now? I mean I might like option C over A or B, but that doesn't mean I can't choose between A or B. Also, you accused me of attacking your character when I asked you what you would have the government do about people with severe mental illnesses, and I mentioned that you'd throw them in a river. That is not a stretch at ALL. Not doing anything = throwing these people into the river. If you get a severe, debilitating mental illness when you are 20 years old, you require serious medical care, your only shot at ever holding down a job is medication and serious therapy. I just cannot believe you'd let all the people in state hospitals out, I mean, you're actually just killing off a segment of society. That is absurd, I just..I seriously can't believe someone even thinks this way. I mean, I say this as someone who has a mother with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; throwing her in the river would be less cruel than turning her out into the streets.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Okay, well considering that it IS a crime, which solution do you prefer? The one that spends more money for a less effective method (prison), or the one that spends less money for a more effective method, (treatment)? I get that theoretically, you believe that all drugs should be decriminalized, but do does this make you incapable of choosing between two very real options that cities are debating right now? I mean I might like option C over A or B, but that doesn't mean I can't choose between A or B.Also, you accused me of attacking your character when I asked you what you would have the government do about people with severe mental illnesses, and I mentioned that you'd throw them in a river. That is not a stretch at ALL. Not doing anything = throwing these people into the river. If you get a severe, debilitating mental illness when you are 20 years old, you require serious medical care, your only shot at ever holding down a job is medication and serious therapy. I just cannot believe you'd let all the people in state hospitals out, I mean, you're actually just killing off a segment of society. That is absurd, I just..I seriously can't believe someone even thinks this way. I mean, I say this as someone who has a mother with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; throwing her in the river would be less cruel than turning her out into the streets.
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snow, I never told you how I'd want the government to deal with the mentally ill because I don't believe the government should deal with them. It's not their job. As for the second part, I'm confused as to why you're arguing with me about this. Like I've stated very clearly before, I do not believe drug possession should be a crime.
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snow, I never told you <b>how</b> I'd want the government to deal with the mentally ill because I don't believe the government <b>should deal with them</b>. It's not their job. As for the second part, I'm confused as to why you're arguing with me about this. Like I've stated very clearly before, I do not believe drug possession should be a crime.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
I didn't say that drug addicts and mentally ill were the same thing. Since you refuse to answer me on how you would deal with the mentally ill tho. "I do not think it is just for the law to punish a drug addict less severely than a non-drug addict if they have committed the exact same crime." Uh...drug court is for possession...of drugs...this is not for like, killing your mom. Not every person who commits crimes is eligible for drug court, I think that is where the confusion came in, if you committed a violent crime, or a non-possession related felony, then no, you can't go to drug court no matter how addicted you are. This is solely for crimes like possession that are directly related to drug use or mental illness. Crimes I saw: loitering, DUI, possession, disturbing the peace, petty larceny, resisting arrest. But now I am convinced of the conservative way: save the government from spending money...unless by spending more money, we can ruin peoples' lives! And I love how, not once, do you even pretend to care about people who have addictions or illnesses! Even when it SAVES the taxpayers money, and decreases the overall amount of crime!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
I didn't say that drug addicts and mentally ill were the same thing. Since you refuse to answer me on how you would deal with the mentally ill tho. "I do not think it is just for the law to punish a drug addict less severely than a non-drug addict if they have committed the exact same crime." Uh...drug court is for possession...of drugs...this is not for like, killing your mom. Not every person who commits crimes is eligible for drug court, I think that is where the confusion came in, if you committed a violent crime, or a non-possession related felony, then no, you can't go to drug court no matter how addicted you are. This is solely for crimes like possession that are directly related to drug use or mental illness. Crimes I saw: loitering, DUI, possession, disturbing the peace, petty larceny, resisting arrest. But now I am convinced of the conservative way: save the government from spending money...unless by spending more money, we can ruin peoples' lives! And I love how, not once, do you even pretend to care about people who have addictions or illnesses! Even when it SAVES the taxpayers money, and decreases the overall amount of crime!
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snow, I think the prison system needs a massive overhaul so that it can be a place of punishment rather than a breeding ground for more crime. But that is another issue. Also, I think you need to make an effort to separate drug addicts from the mentally ill in your head. I understand that there is a great deal of crossover, but they are not the same thing.
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snow, I think the prison system needs a massive overhaul so that it can be a place of punishment rather than a breeding ground for more crime. But that is another issue.Also, I think you need to make an effort to separate drug addicts from the mentally ill in your head. I understand that there is a great deal of crossover, but they are not the same thing.
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snowbunny, I do not think it is just for the law to punish a drug addict less severely than a non-drug addict if they have committed the exact same crime. That's not so much libertarianism as simple fairness and equality under the law.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
And I would just like to remind everyone that when a drug addict, say, steals a car from someone else, it is not sending the criminal to prison that makes the victim whole, it is returning their car, or filing a lawsuit for the value of the car that makes the victim whole. I mean, punishing the criminal may be a concern of society, but when people have drug addictions and illnesses, it is probably a better public policy to try to prevent future criminal behavior through an effective treatment program than by punishing the criminal. I mean, especially when the punishment isn't going to be much a deterrent anyway; it's hard to deter the addict and mentally ill person, so searching for another solution is wise.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
And I would just like to remind everyone that when a drug addict, say, steals a car from someone else, it is not sending the criminal to prison that makes the victim whole, it is returning their car, or filing a lawsuit for the value of the car that makes the victim whole. I mean, punishing the criminal may be a concern of society, but when people have drug addictions and illnesses, it is probably a better public policy to try to prevent future criminal behavior through an effective treatment program than by punishing the criminal. I mean, especially when the punishment isn't going to be much a deterrent anyway; it's hard to deter the addict and mentally ill person, so searching for another solution is wise.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Um, so you'd rather spend more money for a less effective solution? Prison is showing to lead to greater recidivism and be more costly, so what exactly would the point of treating the addict in prison be? The good 'ol libertarianism is best as a theory in a vacuum, it seems. Sorry to attack your character, if you perceive it that way, but you must understand you've never mentioned how you would propose the govt. handle treatment for mentally ill people. And I didn't say stealing, what if someone with schizophrenia self-medicated with meth? I mean, I get that you are for decriminalization, but the way our laws are right now, possessing meth is illegal. Decriminalizing it isn't going to do a thing for the schizophrenic meth addict anyway.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Um, so you'd rather spend more money for a less effective solution? Prison is showing to lead to greater recidivism and be more costly, so what exactly would the point of treating the addict in prison be? The good 'ol libertarianism is best as a theory in a vacuum, it seems. Sorry to attack your character, if you perceive it that way, but you must understand you've never mentioned how you would propose the govt. handle treatment for mentally ill people. And I didn't say stealing, what if someone with schizophrenia self-medicated with meth? I mean, I get that you are for decriminalization, but the way our laws are right now, possessing meth is illegal. Decriminalizing it isn't going to do a thing for the schizophrenic meth addict anyway.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Watch- hmmm, that is interesting, I mostly saw just meth/heroin cases. The thing is, every time someone appears in court, they have to be drug tested, and I don't know how you would effectively test for Vicodin abuse, can you do a urinalysis for that? I didn't even know people got addicted to SSRI's tho...I mean most of the people were being treated with SSRI's! I don't see why people with painkiller addictions couldn't participate, but keep in mind, these are people who had committed a crime, or were in trouble for possession of illegal substances and were on their way to prison. I think possessing a painkiller with an illegal prescription isn't a felony, and generally wouldn't get you jailtime anyway, it would just get plead out to community service.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Watch- hmmm, that is interesting, I mostly saw just meth/heroin cases. The thing is, every time someone appears in court, they have to be drug tested, and I don't know how you would effectively test for Vicodin abuse, can you do a urinalysis for that? I didn't even know people got addicted to SSRI's tho...I mean most of the people were being treated with SSRI's! I don't see why people with painkiller addictions couldn't participate, but keep in mind, these are people who had committed a crime, or were in trouble for possession of illegal substances and were on their way to prison. I think possessing a painkiller with an illegal prescription isn't a felony, and generally wouldn't get you jailtime anyway, it would just get plead out to community service.
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snow, I'm just going to ignore the part of your comment where you attack my character and answer your questions instead. If people commit crimes like theft, they should be tried and punished regardless of what the motivation was. I'm not against substance abuse programs within prisons, but we should not allow drug addiction to be an excuse for crimes.
WATCH-US-EXPLODE WATCH-US-EXPLODE 7 years
Does this go for addicts of all types of drugs, or just those deemed "criminal?" Will the pain-killer or anti-depressant drug addicts be subject to the same considerations?
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
But Michelin- these people on drugs commit crimes while on them or to obtain them, so by diminishing this threat to society the govt. is doing its job as a police power. I thought police power was one of the few things libertarians allowed for a govt. to do? I mean, so if treating people would be more effective than prison for them, would you still argue against it? Just out of principle that govt. money shouldn't be used to do "nice" things for people?Yeah, yeah, you argue people should get funding for treatment from private sources, but seriously, think of the way our society treats the mentally ill, you don't "think pink!" when your friend starts hallucinating and becomes homeless.
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