The intensified campaign is over the concern of the growing street drug dealing and drug related crimes. The successful undertaking yielded large numbers of arrest and incarceration resulted in overcrowded jails. Similar to the evaluation of the Denver drug cases prepared by the Office of Research and Statistics in 1998 states: As a result of increased drug-related arrests, many courts, jails, and prisons are becoming increasingly flooded with drug offenders. "Nationwide there were more than one million arrests for drug offenses in 1991– a 56% increase since 1982."
The problems prompt the Court System to find ways to accommodate the increase in drug arrest. "Courts faced with large numbers of nonviolent drug offenders are, therefore, in a bind: there is few jail or detention alternatives, limited treatment options, and overloaded probation departments that are perceived as ineffective"(Belenko, Dumanovsky 1993). Moreover, many have realized the incarceration alone will never break the "cycle of drugs and crime"(p.1). With this in mind, the court decided to try the alternative and much better ways to deal with drug cases.
The most common and useful court alternative response to drug cases is the special Drug Court. The Drug Court concept was pioneered in Miami-Dane (1989) in response to the cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s and the resulting explosion of drug cases (PDMIAMI, n.d.).
Drug Court is highly regarded as a Treatment Program rather than a traditional trial court. There is no judge or arbiter in this court and people referred to Drug Courts are regarded as addicts and not criminals. In an article "Defining Drug Courts: The Key Components" in 1997 explains: A drug court provides compelling choice for individuals whose criminal involvement stems from AOD or (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse). It also transforms the roles of both criminal justice practitioners and AOD treatment providers.
The major stages in processing drug offenders in a Drug Court are:
Segregating drug cases – this will speed up the processing of drug and non-drug cases. Usually, drug cases were receiving less attention and given less priority by traditional courts and most often they were repeatedly postponed. The segregation or screening were done shortly after a person was charged with drug related felony in a traditional court and booked to jail. This is to determine if the person meets the Drug Court admission criteria. "A person charged with felony possession and/or purchase of a controlled substance, and who has no violent criminal history, may qualify for the program" (PDMIAMI, n.d.). If a person does not have previous criminal records, the Trial Court judge may transfer him to the Drug Court.
Diversion and Treatment Programs- on the persons charged first appearance to the Drug Court. determinations are made if the person actually qualifies for Drug Court Diversion and if he is willing to participate in the treatment program. If the person agrees, he may waive his right for a speedy trial and submit himself to a minimum one-year treatment. These goes also for Drug Court qualified person without homes to participate in Homeless Assessment, Referral, and Tracking Program.
Progress Hearings -while the person is