Drugs and Courts

by Jonah Goldberg

From a reader:

As a criminal defense lawyer, I have seen how drug additions can devastate lives of the addicts and others. If a well-off person gets nailed for a drug-related crime, he’ll hire a good lawyer. The first thing a good lawyer will do is get the addict into a real treatment program and be brutally frank about what happens if the addict fails. Those programs cost $$$$, but the well-off addict will have the resources to pay.

Specialized drug courts are starting to become popular, and they may help level the playing field for less well-off addicts. A well-run drug court will offer drug addicts a carrot-and-stick way out. The addict pleads guilty, but if the judge withholds sentencing pending treatment. If the addicts succeeds over time, they can get the charge wiped clean. If they fail, the judge can impose sentence based on the guilty plea. I’m an appellate lawyer, so I have not seen how these work first hand, but they are a worthy experiment.

From what I can see, one of the biggest factors for addict recovery is family and friends. A middle class person is more likely to come from a strong network of friends and family. That network can offer its own set of carrots and sticks to help the addict get back on the straight and narrow. In the cases in which I seek early release for my clients, I make it a point to pack the courtroom with my clients’ family and friends. I want to show the judge that my client will have this kind of informal supervision.

Please withhold my name if you publish,

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