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Procedural fairness makes drug courts succeed, Burke writes

Even though they are popular and viewed as successful, drug courts in Minnesota are endangered by budget

Hon. Kevin Burke

Hon. Kevin Burke

cutbacks. According to an upcoming law review article by Hennepin County District Court Judge Kevin Burke, a driving force behind the first drug courts in Minnesota, the goal of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals is to have a drug court in all of the country’s 3,143 counties. Although that may happen, it is more likely there will be a difficult effort to bring many of the existing drug courts to scale in order for them to survive, Burke writes in “Just What Made Drug Courts Successful?” It will be published in the winter 2010 issue of The New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement.
“These are difficult budget times for state courts and corrections agencies. Some good drug courts may not make it. But, regardless of whether you are an optimist, pessimist, or somewhere in the middle, [the defendant’s] voice, respect, neutrality, and trust must be seen as key components of a successful drug court. Voice, respect, neutrality and trust, indeed, must be seen as the key component of all courts,” Burke says.

About Barbara L. Jones

One comment

  1. Martha Albertson

    It is a sad day when we cut programs that save taxpayers money only to balance the budget in the short term. In 2004, it cost taxpayers $30,000 a year to incarcerate a person. I am sure incarceration costs much more now! Drug courts prevented the costs, stigma and harm of incarceration. (I mean no disrespect to the Department of Corrections here. It is just that individuals almost always fare better if they can recover outside prison walls: families stay together, jobs are not lost, etc.)

    I have been both a defense attorney and a prosecutor. But I have always been in favor of drug courts. Sadly, history will show that we were penny wise and pound foolish if we cut these valuable programs.

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