Courts are not designed to deal with addiction

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jul 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

This article is a statement of my opinion. I have not researched the statistical success and failure of Drug Courts, DUI Courts, and other Accountability Courts. I am not an expert; however, I have practiced law for 22 years and have represented thousands of people in substance abuse related charges.

Although I have sent clients to accountability courts, I have only done so as a means of reducing the length of their jail sentences. I do not believe in these programs, at all.

What I do believe is that the people who work in these programs want to help people. I believe the judges and case workers truly want to make the lives of the people in the programs better. I believe their involvement is 100% sincere.

That being said, forcing someone to make a life change under the pressure of sanctions and punishment is ineffective. Punishment can force upon someone short-term change. In fairness to these programs, short-term change can be a catalyst for long-term change and growth.

However, it is my opinion that long-term growth and maturity only can come from within. When I was a young man, I was angry and short-tempered. My behavior was a turn-off to many. I decided in my early 30s that I had to change. I decided that I had to work on my behavior, or I would eventually reap the consequences of it.

I had to change, and that change came from within. It was not easy. It was not overnight. Over time, however, I made a real lasting change. I made sure that I treated others the way in which I wanted to be treated. The anger and short-tempered man I was changed.

I think it is hubris to think that other people can force someone else to change. Even with the force of sanctions and punishment, for change to be sincere, it must come from within.

I know people who have been through Accountability Court programs who still use drugs and drink. I have spoken to graduates of those programs who have been re-arrested for the same offense.

Again, this is not the fault of the sincere people who run these programs. It is the result of the fact that people have to conquer their own demons.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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