Wednesday, March 06, 2013

TREATMENT NOT PUNISHMENT IS THE BEST SOLUTION FOR DRUG ADDICTION IN FLORIDA FEDERAL COURTS

Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney often tries to persuade prosecutors to allow Defendants with addictions into Florida Drug Court. The Drug Court is run in a manner similar to the Pretrial Intervention Program in that prosecutors determine who gets in, though once a Defendant is safely in the program, a Judge has much more leeway to prevent a life destroying drug sentence. 
Van Gogh's self portrait establishes his addiction. If he'd been arrested for drugs would he go to Tampa Bay's Drug Court?
A Van Gogh Addiction
It's clear those addicted to drugs benefit more from drug treatment than punishment in Tampa Bay. Drug Court allows Defendants to demonstrate over time to a Judge that their addictions will no longer lead them to break the law.


Yet the power of addiction should never be forgotten. Here is a haunting article from the British Spectator by a heroin addict describing the overwhelming desire to go back to the drug and the need for constant vigilance to stay clean:

I cannot accurately convey to you the efficiency of heroin in neutralising pain. It transforms a tight white fist into a gentle brown wave, and from my first inhalation 15 years ago it fumigated my private hell. A bathroom floor in Hackney embraced me like a womb, and now whenever I am dislodged from comfort my focus falls there.
It is ten years since I used drugs or drank alcohol and my life has immeasurably improved. I have a job, a house, a cat, good friendships and generally a bright outlook.
But the price of this is constant vigilance, because the disease of addiction is not rational....
I looked to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me. Unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary. I still eye the shuffling subclass of junkies and dealers, invisibly gliding between doorways through the gutters. I see the abundantly wealthy with destitution in their stare. I have a friend so beautiful, so haunted by talent that you can barely look away from her, whose smile is such a treasure that I have often squandered my sanity for a moment in its glow. Her story is so galling that no one would condemn her for her dependency on illegal anaesthesia, but now, even though her life is trying to turn around despite her, even though she has genuine opportunities for a new start, the gutter will not release its prey. The gutter is within.

 The last somber part about the talented addict with the treasured smile reminds me of a federal client I represented. The tattooed tear on her left eye fed some deep hidden sorrow, yet she never failed to smile. 
Despite being a mere mule for heroin she faced harsh Federal Drug sentencing. 

A Department of Justice Report on the Feasibility of Federal Drug Courts found many advantages to Federal drug courts noting that:

Drug court programs are a potentially effective means of addressing substance abuse by low-level, nonviolent offenders, and thereby reducing recidivism.

Yet it concluded that Federal Drug Court would be too cumbersome for the DOC to administer, so Federal Judges in progressive districts did it themselves. It's not surprising that progressive states like Oregon or Massachusetts created Federal Drug Courts, but so did South Carolina. 
Why not Florida? Why not now? Florida Federal Judges should create alternatives to harsh punishment for drug Defendants by providing treatment rather than punishment thru Florida Federal Drug Courts, giving Tampa Bay Defense Lawyers the opportunity of helping clients receive the best possible outcome in their drug cases.


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