Source: (2005) Best Practices in Mental Health. 2(1):74- 91.
One of the most profound innovations of the drug court system is the opportunity to
incorporate an understanding of drug-involved behavior with the requirements of the
criminal justice system. This shift away from the predominately punitive orientation of
jail and prison sentences toward a model of treatment reflects the concept of restorative
justice. The restorative nature of drug courts, when implemented with a focus on promoting
healing and wholeness, extends to drug offenders a chance to restore their communities
and to restore themselves as members of their communities.
Several studies have illuminated strategies used by drug courts that contribute to
their success. Previous research has found that drug courts provided more comprehensive
supervision than other forms of community supervision. That research also found
that offender drug use and criminal behaviors were reduced because drug courts effectively
handled the physical and mental health needs of serious offenders who had previously
been unsuccessful in treatment.
The Weber Human Services Drug Court in Utah, a collaborative effort between a justice
system and a treatment system, is still in the initial stages of development. A
process evaluation of this program found that this drug court offers multiple levels of
care for participants and uses the leverage of the criminal justice system to retain them
in treatment. Incorporating career and employment counseling, as well as family and
couples therapy, would further promote restoration and healing. (Author’s Abstract)
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