Whose Team Am I on Anyway? Musings of a Public Defender about Drug Treatment Court Practice


Over the last decade or so, players in the criminal justice system have begun to rethink the ways in which courts handle drug-related crime.’ As a result, courts throughout the country have established treatment-based programs. Perhaps the most popular of these developments have been specialized, drug treatment courts.

Due to their purported promise and reported success, drug treatment court initiatives have received much attention, praise, and funding to encourage their development. While the “movement ‘s towards the treatment court model has gained ever-increasing popularity, the legal community, including the criminal defense bar, has neglected to provide rigorous critique or analysis of it in legal literature. This is somewhat surprising because the new model purportedly makes a fundamental change in the traditional litigation-based process by espousing a nonadversarial, “team work” approach among all of the court’s players-judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney-to move drug-addicted persons to sobriety.

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