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Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 21, 2016

Alfred D'Anca, Sr. Eileen Fagan, SC
Pages 117-136

Drug Courts and Catholic Social Teaching
Challenges for a Retributive Age

In this retribution-centered age of American criminal justice, with continued high rates of drug offenses, the Drug Treatment Court (DTC) model has emerged as a means of managing the needs of non-violent drug offenders through multidisciplinary teams that include judges, prosecuting and defense attorneys, and treatment providers. Now operative in state and Federal jurisdictions, the model is characterized by a more therapeutic vision of law, an acknowledgment of the drug offender as redeemable, a supportive but accountable relationship between judge and drug offender, and non-adversarial collaboration by court officials and treatment providers. This paper examines relevant principles of Catholic social teaching which tend to affirm the innovative drug treatment court model as a rehabilitative and restorative approach to justice by which both the needs of drug offenders and community safety are addressed. The agreement between Catholic social teaching and the principles underlying drug treatment courts is reflected in the Church’s support for legislation favoring community and faith-based outreach offender programs.

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