Pubdate: Fri,  4 Aug 2000
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2000 The Denver Post
Contact:  1560 Broadway, Denver, CO 80202
Fax: (303) 820.1502
Author: Thomas K. Carberry


Re: "Judge blasts drug court," July 21.

As an attorney who worked for a year as the public defender's senior 
attorney in Denver drug court, I applaud Judge Morris Hoffman's stance 
against the court. The involuntary "treatment" of mostly minority drug 
offenders has not worked. Drug court works under the long-discredited 
theory of "behavioral modification," the Clockwork Orange approach to 
medical help. Drop a hot urinalysis, go to jail; miss a class because you 
could not get day care, go to jail; stand up for your constitutional 
rights, go to jail. This breeds hatred and fear, but does not cure 
addiction. Attempts to turn poor black and brown people into middle class 
white people can never work.

Contrary to the claims of District Attorney Bill Ritter and newly named 
"drug czar" Adam Brickner, drug court has not succeeded in helping more 
than a small handful of defendants. The false claims of "graduation" rates 
cannot stand up to the simple fact that about 1,500 people enter drug court 
each year, but only about 200 graduate. What happened to the other 1,300 
people? Many went to prison or jail, some absconded. Drug court allows us 
to entertain the false belief that our government wants to help drug users. 
In reality, Ritter and his staff have greatly increased the imprisonment 
rate of mostly minority, non-violent drug users. Since the inception of 
drug court, the rate of imprisonment in Colorado for drug offenders has soared.

The time has come to abandon both drug court and the failed War on Drugs.

Thomas K. Carberry, Denver
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D