What is the best part of going to drug court?
Among Brooklyn participants, appreciation for the opportunity, satisfaction
with doing well, and feeling proud of accomplishments seemed to be among
the most attractive features of going to court:
- That you know youre walking out.
- At least I know when I come here, I aint got no worry. It dont
make no difference how many times they want me to come. . . . If I was
upstate, I wouldnt be goin nowhere but to the yard.
- The best part for me was I graduated. I got my certificate at the
same time, so when I got up there and got that certificate, I said,
Yes! I did it. I am so proud of myself!
- The best part? . . . We all got together when we had to come in cause
we had a train pass, and the best part was when we walked into the courtroom.
We shined, everybody dressed to their Tsthe
best we had. And the judge knew. It gave us a sense of being somebody.
. . . Each time it got a little better from the first time I went. I
would shine a little more.
- I shouldnt even be sittin here for what I done did or
got caught doin. I mean, any other courtroom, I wouldnt
see daylight for a good long time. I kiss the ground I walk on now.
When asked to describe the best part of going to drug court, Las Vegas
participants almost unanimously referred to various forms of encouragement,
signs that they were doing well:
- Walking out the doors instead of being in handcuffs.
- When the judge give you a compliment instead of calling you a drug
- I think it motivates you and keeping you doing the right thing when
he says, Good job.
- You know, its some people have never had a dirty UA. You know,
I be clapping my hands for them myself. You know it aint easy
. . . like, Hey, congratulations, that was good.
- You need a pat on the back. . . .
- Times when I think Im in trouble and everythings good,
I walk out smiling and stop shaking.
- They want gratitude instead of attitude. . . .
Perhaps the most positive part of drug court for many was graduating.
- Graduations are good.
- When you graduate and they give you a tee shirt. . . .
- Finally treat you like a human being and tell you hes proud
to shake your hand. Even shake your hand when you graduate.
Many of the participants reported that they gained a great deal from
sitting in court and watching others go before the judge:
- You learn from other people.
- A way to learn.
Similar sentiments were echoed among Miami focus group participants:
- Being able to walk back out.
- Coming out the door. You dont come out the door, youre
- Goin in you got nothing to worry aboutyou just getting
your next court date, really.
- The best part for me is to come up and get my next court date, that
let me know I be already taken care of. You get your court date, you
walk out, that mean you clean. When he talk to you and says you have
a problem, then you messin up.
- I wouldnt say it like that. Sometimes I get high and Im
praying God for me to stop getting high. The best part for me is I should
get to that drug court and get treatment again. To give you a chance
to stay clean, to get back to regular life, like normal human beings.
This man is giving me a chance to live again.
- My best part is people graduatingyeah, thats the best
part. One day Im gonna get there. . . . [Everybody claps.]
Comments about the best part of the courtroom experience in the San Bernardino
groups centered on receiving encouragement and approval from the judge:
- When he pats you on the back.
- When he tells you to go home.
- When he tells you youre doing good. You got a job and all that
stuff. It makes you feel great.
- When hes done with you, thats the best part.
- Best part is watching him smile. . . . When you get it from the judge,
- Knowing that Im not going into the box.
The same sentimentthe prospect of being successfulseemed
a major theme in the comments of Seattle participants:
- I want to be one of those people who get up there and graduate. I
want to be them. Its a cool feeling, you know what Im saying.
Back to The Courtroom Experience
Chance: Perspectives on Drug Courts