The Drug Court Paradox: If You Comply, You're Sick; If You Relapse, You're a Crook

The biggest problem with drug courts is that they claim to be an alternative to imprisonment, but aren't really. Here's an illustrative and depressing example: Last week a 46-year-old Illinois drug court graduate who'd been caught relapsing was sentenced to six years in prison.

After pleading guilty to a meth possession charge in 2006, the Quincy Herald-Whig reports that Rodney Ward spent 30 months under the supervision of the Adams County Drug Court. He graduated in 2008. At some point after that he got back into meth, buying pseudoephedrine, making, selling, and using the stuff. Here's what happened after he was charged:

[Adams County First Assistant State's Attorney Gary Farha] asked [Drug Court Judge William Mays] to levy the stiffest possible penalty against Ward.

"To get this great opportunity (of Drug Court) and then blowing it like Mr. Ward has done, there needs to be significant penalties," Farha said.

"You did well in Drug Court," Mays told Ward. "But the fact that you went back to using meth just points out the strength of the addiction."

Then Mays slapped Ward with a six-year sentence, when he could've offered him four years (but apparently not probation). This is wrong. 

Drug court proponents argue that drug addiction is a physical disease, that it is unjust and ineffective to jail nonviolent addicts, and that they should instead be offered a strictly regimented recovery program. To the average person (say, someone who doesn't oppose the drug war) it sounds like drug courts are doing the Lord's work, that is until you consider that in most drug courts (and among most drug court proponents), offenders don't get any points for reducing their consumption or getting their life back on track while continuing to use. Ask why that is, and a lot of drug court proponents will suddenly change their rhetoric and their tone: It's against the law. People have to be held accountable. Even the "softer" drug courts feel the need to punish people who relapse, either with a brief stint in jail, or with community service. It's kinder, gentler prohibition

Back to Ward: He's 46. If he does a full six years behind bars, he'll be 52 when he gets out. Hardened, probably. Less skilled than when he went in. Would you hire him? Could you blame him if he got back into meth?

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  • Almanian!||

    Hey, I have an idea! Why don't we decriminalize/legalize/not have any laws preventing the use of drugs?

    Just a thought.

    /Fantasy Island - Libertopian Edition

  • Duke||

    But what would police, prosecutors, prison wardens, the DEA and the FBI do for a living? Enter the private sector and become productive members of society? Ha! What a laugh! *shudders*

  • SIV||

    Fuck decrim. I believe in the "Portugal model" they can incarcerate you for "not responding to treatment" as well.

  • Dweebston||

    So essentially, your liberty to remain at large rests on your probation officer's sanguinity?

  • SIV||

    With decrim they call them social workers.

  • Dweebston||

    Like reporting to an MVD worker. I'm not sure that's better.

  • Hyperion||

    There's a misleading link on Drudge Report today (first time ever!), that says DC is looking at legalizing weed.

    In fact, it's not a legalization bill at all, but would only decriminalize small amounts. It would still be illegal.

  • Dibbler||

    Gotta love policing for profits. These programs make sure to wring every red penny they can get out of you.

  • Aresen||

    Drug court proponents argue that drug addiction is a physical disease, that it is unjust and ineffective to jail nonviolent addicts, and that they should instead be offered a strictly regimented recovery program.

    Yeah. Confining you and subjecting you to forced therapy is so much better than just confining you.

  • Almanian!||

    Arersen, the first step on the road to healing is admitting you have a problem...

  • Aresen||

    And if you don't admit you have a problem, then you have a problem.

    Drug Court-22

  • Almanian!||

    You know what the problem is...?

  • SIV||

    "You got a problem homie"?

  • Almanian!||

    People have to be held accountable.

    Almost forgot - the little people need to be held accountable. Not Our Betters.

    Just clarifying, Mike kthxbai

  • ||

    "You did well in Drug Court," Mays told Ward. "But the fact that you went back to using meth just points out the strength of the addiction."

    I thought it pointed out the ineffectiveness of Drug Court. Silly me.

    So, if the problem here is the strength of the addiction, why is he punishing the victim?

  • ||

    Uh, because drugs are bad, mm'kay?

    Also, behind every gloved hand in a "drug court" lies a mailed fist that wants nothing more than to crush anyone who relapses, because to the scum who support these things, doing drugs is a moral failure.

  • sloopyinca||

    Why do you want the pushers to win, Epi? Why do you want to see 7 year olds shooting up crack on the playground in your libertarian paradise?

    And I gave you my rating but you didn't even reply. You're an asshole.

  • ||

    You're just figuring that out now?

  • sloopyinca||

    No, but I wanted to reiterate it for all your fans on H&R.

  • Almanian!||

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAY EPI!

    /fanboy

  • sloopyinca||

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAY EPI!

    /fanboy /douchenozzle

    FIFY!

  • Almanian!||

    HAHA! Sloopy's jealous he ain't got no fanboys!

    Pffffffffttttttt!!

  • ||

    ^^ This is in reference to a tennis conversation. Yes, that tennis. Not even table tennis, which can at least be amusing while drunk.

    I'd rather watch a rerun of a blow-out bowl game than fucking tennis.

  • sloopyinca||

    I'd rather watch a rerun of a blow-out bowl game than fucking tennis.

    Well, here you go, then.

  • ||

    You think I won't go back to this thread after I get home tonight and watch that video, but you're wrong. I fucking love college football.

  • Calidissident||

    Wouldn't the 2007 or 2008 BCS National Championship games be better examples of that?

    I kid, I kid

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not the game against UF? Pussy.

  • ||

    A friend of mine had a kid go through drug court. The mailed fist you refer to is only to threaten people into paying up. For the most part criminal court is about shaking people down.

  • ||

    There is absolutely that element, but to the sadists who hate drug use, there is also the ability to hold the drug court over an addict's head, like they did here. If this guy hadn't done drug court and had done two years for the first offence, once he got out, there wouldn't be any of this:

    "To get this great opportunity (of Drug Court) and then blowing it like Mr. Ward has done, there needs to be significant penalties."

    This guy is getting fucked harder because he chose the drug court option. The supposedly softer option.

  • ||

    Look, there's going to be a fist involved here one way or the other. Either a very real, very physical one in prison, or a metaphorical one in drug-court.

    And just to make sure we're all on the same page here, I'm referring to said fists being put up your butt.

  • Robert||

    No, I think the judge would've done the same thing, but said something else.

  • sloopyinca||

    So, if the problem here is the strength of the addiction, why is he punishing the victim?

    Had that druggie been an Inner Party member, like a policeman, he would have been given contract-mandated disability and had the taxpayers pay for his rehab. Then he'd be given his job, his gun and his armored car back...three times before he actually had to go to court.

  • sloopyinca||

    Drug court is bullshit. Drug laws are bullshit. There is only one fair solution: legalize individual rights to put what one wants into their own body and the voluntary transactions between producer/seller/buyer.*

    *With all respect to the super-cop on here that trick pharmacists into giving up private docs without a warrant on a kid who chose to do what he wanted with his private property.

  • Brandon||

    "You did well in Drug Court," Mays told Ward. "But the fact that you went back to using meth just points out the strength of the addiction."

    That's not exactly what it points out...

  • Brandon||

    OT: The FeelingGoodTees girl is a significant step down from the SnorgTees girls.

  • sloopyinca||

    Personally, I prefer the AdBlocker blank spot.

  • Almanian!||

    FAAAAAAAAG!

  • ||

    That is so gay.

  • Brandon||

    Ok, I propose that any Adblocker or Reasonable smugness be grounds for banning.

  • Dweebston||

    Well, if you had Reasonable, you effectively could...

  • Brandon||

    I'm a libertarian, why would I give a shit about "effectively?" I want Totally or not at all!

  • mr lizard||

    Idk the one that's been up for a while is draped out with a look on her face suggesting she's staring at the magic cure on a stick. I like

  • ||

    I saw the ads on here for the first time in ages while on vacation reading off of my tablet. I'll take the roadkill tshirt girl.

  • ||

    Does anybody still smoke opium, like in the old west? Is that still a thing?

  • Almanian!||

    One "dry" summer in the early 80's we couldn't get weed (not even ditch weed). Nothin'. Then - opiated hash. As much as you wanted. We bought a quarter POUND of the stuff.

    At first it was like heaven...then we got sick of it. "God DAMN I just wanna smoke a joint...but all we got is this fuckin' black, sticky opiated hash..."

    I do remember us laughing that we never thought we'd be bitching about "having" to smoke opiated hash ILO plain old pot.

    I don't think that answered your question, but thanks for the memory jog!

  • Jayburd||

    As I remember, opiated hash was hard to burn so we put it in cigs. Then we ate some and WOW!

  • Sidd Finch||

    I smoked some opium at a Phish concert in the 90's. Liked the opium. Fucking hated the concert.

  • sarcasmic||

    I went to Lemonwheel and I thought it was pretty cool. Not that I'd ever go again or buy any of their music or hang out with any of their smelly fans, but it was a cool experience.

  • Brandon||

    I do, but I don't think it's particularly popular. Not sure why.

  • cavalier973||

  • Almanian!||

    OK, but other than that and the whole "losing control of your life and shit" thing...not so bad.

  • SIV||

    Don't forget the lumberjack anal!

  • SIV||

  • Akdov Initram||

    This is so sad - Libertarians focusing only on legalization also should focus on recovery. All too often we're talking about winning the war on drugs without talking about people who need help. I support drug legalization wholeheartedly but Lee Wrights had a great point in 2012 about making sure we treat people who become addicted and need help - the government has failed.

  • SIV||

    Are you lost?

  • Dweebston||

    The first step to recovery is admitting that incarcerating addicts is a problem.

  • Brandon||

    Forcing "treatment" on people who don't want it is neither libertarian nor effective.

  • Agammamon||

    Uh, its not the government's job to help addicts.

  • Hyperion||

    All too often we're talking about winning the war on drugs

    WTF? Who's talking about that? Some idiot bureaucrats at the DEA? Pretty much everyone else on the planet knows that the WOD was lost before it started.

  • Irish||

    When you force treatment on someone, they very rarely kick the addiction.

    You can't kick the addiction unless YOU choose to stop using. It's impossible to treat someone for drug addiction against their will.

  • Hyperion||

    Stop using logic and get with the program, citizen!

  • Hyperion||

    Hey, I have an idea! Why don't we decriminalize/legalize/not have any laws preventing the use of drugs?

    Why do you hate the dogs? If cops didn't have the WOD, they wouldn't have anything to do, except for shoot dogs. The WOD is saving the lives of thousands of dogs!

  • cavalier973||

    Andy Taylor seemed to stay pretty busy.

    You know, part of people's problem, I think, is that they have this idea of policemen derived from the Andy Griffith show; a wise, calm individual that solves problems and is genuinely helpful. A caretaker, of sorts. He'll bend the law if he thinks it is right to do so--always to the people's advantage (as in, one family owes a guy some money and has Andy throw them in jail for non-payment, on Christmas Eve. Andy does so, but then has Aunt Bea, Opie, Barney, et al cook up a Christmas dinner for them.) Andy even gets shot at on more than one occasion, and doesn't freak out about it. "Come on, now; you know you shouldn't be doing that." was more or less his attitude.

    As long as people have this unrealistic, dreamy view of law enforcement, they will refuse to face the reality concerning its role as the violent arm of the state.

  • Robert||

    While in reality the true model of policeman was played by Don Knotts.

  • JoeZilch||

    "He's 46. If he does a full six years behind bars, he'll be 51 when he gets out."

    Wouldn't he be 52?

  • Mike Riggs||

    Derp. Thanks.

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