February 18, 2013
Should Non-Violent Drug Offenders Be Remanded to Drug Court
Pablo Rayo Montano and Rita Faye Myers two people in comparison, entirely different, yet both are currently incarcerated on drug related charges. The only commonality shared with the two incarcerations is the word “drug” the severity and the type of crimes are worlds apart yet both are serving sentences over 20 years.
Montano, responsible for over 15 tons of cocaine entering the United States from Columbia per month, was convicted for drug smuggling. At the time of his arrest the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stated his enterprise was so vast and organized “he had his own navy” which included a small submarine.
Myers by contrast was as far from an international drug lord as one would expect. She is a nice, quiet, older woman with only a sixth grade education that currently is serving 21 years in an Alabama prison for forging a prescription for the opiate Dilaudid. It was the disease of her addiction that lead ultimately to committing the criminal act of forgery, a forgery that did not harm anyone else physically.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) describes addiction as a primary disease, meaning that it's not the result of other causes, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, addiction is recognized as a chronic disease; so it must be treated, managed and monitored over a person's lifetime.
Myers has an addiction, an illness that requires intervention and treatment from professionals specifically trained to help control the cravings associated with addiction.
Myers is only one of many people currently incarcerated today that are not receiving the proper treatment for the addictions that they live with. What makes this situation worse is that the prisons that these people sit in do nothing to assist in educating and rehabilitating these offenders. Courts believe by incarcerating these offenders they are preventing the usage and crime associated with the addict. In reality this is so far from correct, abstinence does not curb the desire, nor does it help focusing on providing the needed tools to help addicts understand the cravings of their addictions. Without the proper education and foundation needed to lead a drug free life the offenders most often return to the same environment they were living in before their incarceration. Feeding what is commonly known as the revolving door effect within the prison system.
This is where drug courts have started to become an alternative for the non-violent drug offender. Drug courts are intended to treat addicts who commit crimes due to their addiction, not criminals who happen to use drugs. What drug courts focus on is rehabilitation and intervention with a constant supervision by the court system. This is typically an outpatient program where the offender is required to complete a very strict drug program which includes drug education, group and individual counseling, requirement to obtain employment and most of all submit to random drug testing .The courts also require a regular appearance to evaluate and monitor the offenders status. Upon completion of the 12 to 18 month program the offender is rewarded with the deferment (dropped) of the original drug charges. Once the initial charges are dropped than in most cases no felony charges appear on their permanent record. Felony records can cause an adverse effect with future employment possibilities, housing issues, education grants and many other areas.
For my first source I selected a book titled “Drug Court Constructing the Moral Identity of Drug Offenders I choose this book because of the wealth of information covering the history and operational guidelines of the drug court system. Through an extensive 5 year study they have provided proof that the drug court system is beneficial to the offenders and society. This book explains the criteria that are used when considering the eligibility to...