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NCJ Number: 202274 Find in a Library
Title: Tough Love: Nurturing and Coercing Responsibility and Recovery in California Drug Courts
Journal: Social Problems  Volume:50  Issue:3  Dated:August 2003  Pages:416-438
Author(s): Stacy Lee Burns; Mark Peyrot
Date Published: August 2003
Page Count: 23
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the way in which California drug court defendants interact with judges to construct the defendants as either “recovering” or “addicted” and in need of sanction.
Abstract: Drug courts are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to costly incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. The authors examined the activities of the participants in California drug treatment courts from a constructionist perspective, seeking to uncover the ways in which judges and drug court defendants interact to construct the defendant’s identity as either a recovering drug user or an addict in need of punishment. Ethnographic observations were conducted in two Southern California drug courts beginning in August 2000; defendants were all adults, a substantial number of them were female, and all defendants tended to be in their 20’s and 30’s. The authors found that judges determined certain types of defendants as unsuitable for participation in the drug court treatment program. These unsuitable defendants tended to be in denial about their drug addiction, viewed themselves as victims, or displayed no incentive to change their behavior. Observations also revealed that defendants routinely negotiated with judges concerning their infractions and that defendants were frequently terminated or moved backward in drug court treatment. Other defendants had their treatment time extended while some progressed through the stages in the proper order and time frame. The authors observed that while the defendants in drug court were able to avoid incarceration and the resulting stigma associated with incarceration, they were subjected to a combination of penal and therapeutic objectives put forth by the judges, including enhanced supervision, monitoring, and other controls in the name of rehabilitation. Thus, defendants were held accountable to judges who enjoyed broad discretionary powers. The implication is that drug courts may help create an identity of disability, with the ensuing assumption that defendants cannot behave as autonomous actors because of their disability. References
Main Term(s): Defendant attitudes; Drug Courts
Index Term(s): California; Drug treatment; Theory
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