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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The drug court : A miracle or the healer's hand? Webb, Suzanne Nicola

Abstract

The subject of this thesis is criminal justice sentencing policy. The thesis examines the role of the Drug Court in diverting drug dependent offenders from the conventional Criminal Justice System. A large percentage of convicted offenders have a drug addiction problem and such offenders impose staggering burdens on an already overwhelmed Criminal Justice System. Diversion programs offer a practicable alternative to the traditional court system, and this thesis will investigate the feasibility of a Drug Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In examining the advantages and disadvantages of this method of sentencing, the thesis assesses the value of compulsory treatment and determines whether criminal justice sanctions should incorporate compulsory treatment initiatives. To aid in this analysis, additional diversion programs for drug addicted offenders are examined. The Drug Court is assessed through a comparison of the court with traditional sentencing principles. This thesis analyses the success of the Drug Court in other jurisdictions and looks at how the Drug Court deals with the sociological and environmental factors linked to drug abuse and criminality. In determining whether a Drug Court is a feasible option for Vancouver, the thesis examines these external crimogenic factors and the strategies undertaken by the City to combat drug-related crime. It is argued that the conventional criminal justice system provides little, if any, progressive and pro-active drug abuse intervention. This thesis concludes that Vancouver should implement a Drug Court to divert offenders from the traditional court system, and argues that the Drug Court diversion program should be available for drug-dependent property offenders. It identifies how the court can operate alongside pre-existing community services to ensure that post-release environmental conditions are conducive to drug abstinence and legitimate activity. In recommending adoption of the drug court program, the thesis stresses the importance of making this diversion scheme part of a community-based, long-term, holistic intervention strategy. The thesis ends with practical suggestions for implementation of a Drug Court program in Vancouver.

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