Campus Drug Courts: How Universities May Be Best Equipped to Tackle Crime and Substance Abuse in Young Adults

By Dutmers, Jill M. | Law and Psychology Review, Annual 2017 | Go to article overview

Campus Drug Courts: How Universities May Be Best Equipped to Tackle Crime and Substance Abuse in Young Adults


Dutmers, Jill M., Law and Psychology Review


INTRODUCTION

The college party culture is an entity known to students before they ever set foot on campus. Pervasive in its scope, this culture relies upon both time-honored traditions and media glorification of what it means to be a college student in today's day and age. Unfortunately, this lifestyle is highly problematic for the well-being of those who engage in it. "On one out of three American college campuses, more than half of all students engage in high-risk drinking, consuming four to five or more drinks in a row." (1) Additionally, one-third of those "high-risk drinkers" engages in the party culture or lifestyle, "characterized by frequent, deliberate intoxication." (2) The effect of this culture can be curtailed if colleges and universities implement campus drug courts. With the immense success of state drug courts, campus drug courts are slowly being phased into universities as a more effective means of dealing with alcohol and drugs on campus than the typical prevention activities of hosting sessions at freshman orientation or rallying around an alcohol awareness week. (3)

A typical state drug court operates as a program that brings together attorneys, judges, treatment officials, law enforcement personnel, and any additional relevant players to compel the offender to address his or her substance abuse. (4) Usually, high-risk drinkers and drug users on campuses are only addressed through law enforcement or expulsion, with little success. (5) As a result, more systematic approaches, which utilize the campus's conduct and treatment officials as well as the surrounding community, are implemented in hopes they will be more effective in treating students with substance abuse problems. (6)

Part II of this note will discuss the successes of state drug courts and how this structure can be converted into a campus model. Part III will explain the prevalence of substance abuse issues that college students suffer from and the secondary implications that arise because of alcohol and drug abuse. Part IV will examine the opportunity for cooperation between campus drug courts and participation in state diversion programs. Finally, Part V will discuss the benefits campus drug courts offer to the students, the campus, and the legal community at large.

DRUG COURTS AND THE CAMPUS DRUG COURT MODEL

A. State Drug Courts: An Overview

Historically, drug and alcohol use have been substantial causative factors in crimes committed by offenders of all ages, not just those in a university environment. (7) As a result of changing drug policy, one of the most meaningful reductions in both drug use and recidivism has come from the implementation of drug courts. (8) For contrast, some alternative methods that have been used to address both substance abuse and recidivism are imprisonment, rehabilitation during imprisonment, civil commitment, and referral of offenders to treatment. Each of these approaches, by itself, has shown to have little to no effect in achieving goals of reduced substance abuse and recidivism, and often face push-back from local policymakers. (9)

While many drug abusers find themselves in prison (due either to the illegal nature of the substances or related conduct), prison provides little benefit in terms of either rehabilitation or reducing recidivism. (10) Approximately 55% of all users recidivate within three years of their release and approximately 95% return to drug use within that same time frame." In-prison rehabilitation programs also have a relatively small impact on reducing recidivism (55% to 45%) and an immeasurable impact on reducing drug use. (12) Further, very few inmates receive these resources for treatment while incarcerated. (13) Conversely, drug courts focus on a scheme of therapeutic jurisprudence. (14) This theory of procedural fairness across all agencies finds the right balance between the punitive role of traditional prosecution (and imprisonment) with a regard for an offender's need for treatment. …

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