Governors get it right and wrong

June 17, 202

As reported last week, the governor of many a state has jumped on the drug court bandwagon. Many support the position that all non-violent drug abusing offenders are in need of intensive drug treatment and an opportunity to receive such treatment in the community, rather than prison. This belief runs counter to what has become an accepted scientific principle, that only drug dependent and addicted offenders need the intensive intervention of a drug court program.While their grasp of the science of drug dependency may be weak, the governors’ willingness to offer a broad  community drug court based treatment plan for most non-violent drug abusers is exemplary (see: NADCP Argues for Evidence-Based Tracks).

On the other hand,  we have governors who apparently understand the science, that drug dependent offenders should receive intensive drug court treatment, but substance abusers (who are not drug dependent) do not need that intensive treatment. While we applaud their understanding of the science involved, we’re concerned that they are not always interested in alternatives to prison for non-drug dependent offenders (or non-drug abusers). We need to provide non-custodial alternatives to prison for offenders who are not drug dependent. Failing to do so will effectively create a second class of non-dependent drug abusers with serious criminogenic needs that are being ignored by our governors. i ask you (and them); why wouldn’t we want to keep non-violent offenders in the community, where they can receive far more cost effective rehabilitative services suited to their criminogenic needs, rather than sending them to prison where all they will receive is a master’s degree in criminology (see: Dealing with the Whole Person in Sentencing: Part 10).

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