The drugs courts have been lauded as being very instrumental in reducing not only drug related crimes but all other crimes as well. This has been attributed to the fact that many crimes are committed by people who are under the influence of drugs and so who are not able to make sound judgments. Dealing with such people in a criminal justice system that seeks to reform them and not just punish them is the best way to go (Granfield, 1998). As such, these courts have received a lot of support from many civil society groups who have described them as being revolutionary.
For their evidence they have cited the drastic decline in the cases of recidivism ever since it became the policy of both federal and state governments to ensure that minor drug offenders were taken and dealt with in these specialized courts. Another key benefit of these courts has been their ability to incorporate the young and the adults without any discrimination (Peters, 2000). Lately, cases of juvenile delinquency have been on the rise in the country and proponents of drug courts as well as child welfare advocacy groups have sought to have these courts increased so as to help manage the situation.
Juveniles tend to be easily affected by pressures from peers and one key area where they have tended to concentrate is drug use and abuse. Once they are under the influence of drugs, these juveniles quickly get addicted and progress equally fast to commit other crimes. Drug courts are the only viable legal institutions that can offer hope for turning around such young people (Cooper, 2001). Some adults are also desperately in need of help and although such help can also be found in health institutions like rehabilitation centers within the community, some never benefit because the criminal element in them makes them resist treatment.
However, in drug courts, such people are able to receive help because there is an aspect of force given that the program is usually conducted under high level of legal supervision (Aos, Miller & Drake, 2006). In addition, the courts are likely to produce better results because unlike in voluntary community rehabilitation centers, the offenders are keen to change their drug records so as to get the accompanying rewards like having their court sentences reduced or even getting acquitted of their crimes.
However, opponents like Bhati, Roman, & Chalfin (2008) have cited the huge government expenditure on the system as being unsustainable and an added burden to taxpayers who are forced to finance criminals and other law offenders. They insist that punishments ought to be severe enough to prompt offenders to seek to change their behavior. As such, they are of the view that prison terms are the best and only those people who have finished serving their terms can be put on drug management programs – and this based on their will and desire to change and be reintegrated into the community.
They claim that there is no way an offender who has failed to change while in prison can be forced to change by using an even softer approach (Roman, Townsend & Bhati, 2003). Although they agree that these courts enable the drug addicts to change their behavior because of being made to stay for long times without drugs and so conditioning their bodies to work without the drugs, they would rather this was done in ways that are less costly (Rhodes, Kling & Shively, 2006.
Finally, these courts lack the level of effectiveness that is required because there is often a lack of partnerships among public agencies, drug courts, and community-based organizations. Such cooperation is ideal and even indispensable if the courts were to succeed in attaining the level of efficiency required to change the lives of the addicts brought there (Hennessy, 2002).