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“‘Force is the Best Medicine’: How America Overdosed on Drug Courts”

“‘Force is the Best Medicine’: How America Overdosed on Drug Courts” May 18, 2015

by Maia Szalavitz:

…If doctors were to deviate this far from the standard of care in treating patients, they would face malpractice judgments and, in extreme cases, criminal prosecution. But drug court judges face no such accountability, even though they generally acknowledge that addiction is a disease and make final decisions on which treatments are permitted. “A judge’s decisions cannot be mucked about with unless they’re illegal or a total abuse of discretion,” says Peggy Hora, a retired drug court judge from California who has long argued in favor of maintenance. Unfortunately, this judicial independence, otherwise so crucial to the balance of democratic power, means that drug court judges—who are not required to have special training—can disregard the medical consensus. They are granted great leeway in making life-and-death decisions about treatment. In effect, they are allowed to practice medicine without a license.

 

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