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North Dakota drug court allows judge to work with offenders

It is typical for judges and drug offenders to be at odds in the courtroom, but a program in Grand Forks allows an area judge to focus on helping those trying to overcome their challenges. These meetings provide an opportunity for encouraging those dealing with the consequences of their drug crimes to overcome addictions and make positive changes. Although a bill promoting further establishment of such solutions was recently proposed at the state level, lawmakers have killed the legislation in question.

One of the primary reasons noted for stopping the bill is that the responsibilities that would have been delegated as a result of the legislation would have been too similar to responsibilities already belonging to a separate commission. The concept of creating courts to solve problems rather than dole out punishments has received positive responses, but there continue to be disagreements over where the responsibility for establishing such solutions should be placed. The greatest challenge noted in creating such problem-solving solutions is the fact that there is a huge demand for resources.

Those facing penalties such as incarceration because of drug offenses might benefit from problem-solving alternatives such as drug court. Those with little or no history of offenses, for example, could be motivated to make positive behavior changes through interaction and counseling in a court setting.

A lawyer representing an individual who is facing charges involving illegal substances might request the option of a client's participation in drug court as an alternative to jail or prison time. Additionally, lawyers might contribute to the development of further drug courts to facilitate more effective remediation options for those who are committed to making behavioral changes.

Source: The Bismark Tribune, "Judge meets with offenders in Drug Court," Sarah Volpenhein, April 25, 2015

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