More On Drug Courts

by Jonah Goldberg

From a friend of mine:


As you know, my mother died of heroin addiction related causes. In other words, her body failed due to the ravages of chemicals being introduced to the body before an overdose would have killed her. My family wasn’t a high-income or middle-class family, nor was most of my family particularly supportive during my mother’s recovery efforts. She went through one rehab program, paid for by a government grant, and as most people know one program is rarely enough with heroin. But I can say this. The program my mother went through was because Nevada is a state with a Drug Court. That’s right, no tolerance Nevada has a Drug Court, at least it does in Washoe County. I think it is a great idea. I am not particularly fond of the “disease” model when it comes to addiction, but I am also not comfortable with the “blame” model either. Regardless of initial responsibilities, which are often a mixed bag of contributing factors anyway, in the end addiction (particularly physical addiction) is an overwhelming thing. I don’t have any solutions here, but I do think that a hate the sin love the sinner approach is necessary if you value saving the life of addicts. If you merely seek punishment for violation of the social contract, then the discussion ends there (and that is a legitimate argument). But saying hate the sin and love the sinner isn’t enough. My father and grandparents thought that was what they were doing, but they spent more time blaming and accusing than asking if mom was okay. I don’t mean to judge them for this, I understand how difficult it was for them to watch my mom spiral down a destructive path, but it takes action and not words in practicing this idea. Kind of like “tough love.” Sometimes we are really tough, but we leave out the love.

Anyway…short point. If as a society we value bringing people out of addiction and into society with a good chance of succeeding in mainstream society, then Drug Courts are a good idea. Especially given the clean legal slate, I have personally witnessed how criminal records affect hiring policies (whether legal or not). If you view drug use as no different from any other crime, then they are unnecessary. But I view the world the first way and not the second, though I think that drug dealers should be punished to the full extent of the law. In fact, I think their punishments should be sterner.

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