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Drug Courts

  • By: Taj Alexander Mahon-Haft & Clayton Mosher
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

The first drug court (originally called expedited drug case management), was created in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, at the behest of legal professionals and politicians, including Janet Reno, who were intent on developing a rehabilitation-oriented substitute to imprisonment for drug offenders. The escalation of the “War on Drugs” and “Tough on Crime” movements during the 1980s had overwhelmed court dockets and prisons with steadily growing numbers of drug cases, most of the nonviolent. The traditional punitive justice model was ineffective at dealing with drug-addicted offenders, who commonly re-offended after release, siphoning resources. Determined to apply evidence-based practices, the treatment and behavior modification approaches employed in this alternative sentencing setting showed widespread success from the start, improving outcomes for offenders (who were now called ...

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