The role of drug courts in promoting desistance and recovery: a merging of therapy and accountability [2019]

Criminal behavior and substance abuse are closely connected and many offenders have substance use disorders and related problems. Reducing drug-related crime in this population requires attention to the determinants and processes of both recovery from substance use disorders and desistance from crime, and the provision of individual and social services that can promote and facilitate recovery and desistance. Traditional criminal justice system models do not generally focus on both substance use and criminal behavior, nor do they address the individual and social factors that can affect desistance and recovery. Drug treatment courts represent a therapeutic model of justice that have become popular in many countries over the past two decades. This paper argues that the drug court is an important criminal justice innovation that has the potential to promote both desistance from criminal behavior and recovery from drug use. The drug court model incorporates and implements many of the processes and interventions that are theoretically associated with desistance and recovery. Despite some limitations and the need for additional research, drug courts have the potential to address many of the factors associated with reductions in both drug use and criminal behavior.

Steven Belenko
Addiction Research & Theory, 13 Jan 2019