The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Drug courts are the nation’s newest legal development in the war on drugs. These courts attempt to stop drug abuse through a treatment-based alternative court which focuses on an offender’s addiction and decluttering the courts. The main goal of drug courts is rehabilitation, not punishment. Drug courts help diminish the cost of putting drug-abusing offenders into our criminal justice system which causes prison and jail overcrowding. Fighting drug abuse also drains our economic resources. Since the implementation of drug courts in 1989, over seventy percent of drug-abusing offenders have either successfully completed the drug court program or are still participating in it. No other single solution to drug abuse proves as effective as drug courts. The State of Texas, however, moves slowly in developing drug courts to curtail drug abuse. As of May 2004, Texas established or planned to implement twenty-one drug courts across the state. This number is severely disproportionate to the state’s general population as well as its incarcerated population of drug offenders. Texas has fewer problem-solving courts than over twenty other states in America. The lack of drug courts in Texas greatly affects minority drug offenders. Minorities encompass almost seventy percent of Texas’ prison population. Additionally, ninety percent of the drug-abusing offenders moving through our court system are Hispanic or African American. Minority offenders do not need incarceration, they need help through rehabilitation. These courts produce savings in criminal justice related costs, substantially reduce drug use and criminal behavior by offenders, and provide a more intensive supervision of the offender than any other solutions attempted by this nation. Drug courts are helpful, but only if Texas implements them into the criminal justice system.

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