November 2nd, 2012


Watch as we punish the vulnerable some more.

You know, I'm not sure how a program based on abstinence that uses testing to identify its failures and apply punitive measures to those who stumble is going to save any lives.

Drug courts in the US have resulted in a net-widening effect, where people who would otherwise be cautioned are now being put through the official criminal justice system. Drug testing has been shown to be no more effective at helping reduce harms or recidivism among those with problems than non-testing based programs (and in many cases it's less effective) because it does nothing except highlight backsliding for punishment. Threat of punishment has been shown to be ineffective as a deterrent for drug use. Abstinence-only programs have been shown to be less effective than those which allow for the reality that overcoming addiction is not a linear process.

I would normally provide sources for the statements made above but since I'm in Melbourne on my netbook they aren't at my fingertips. You could look them up yourselves if you're keen - or you could trust that I know my shit on this one.

I think that drug courts could be helpful, but not if they are purely based on the abstinence/punishment model. What will actually happen IMO is that we will end up with more people incarcerated as they are used as a funnel for more and more drug-related crimes, and as people inevitably backslide, are tested and receive sentences. I fail to see how this will save lives. Just saying.