The justification for using ‘coercive’ forms of treatment is often premised on the utilitarian notion that diverting and engaging illicit drug users into a therapeutic intervention as they come into contact with the CJS will contribute towards addressing a key amplifier of their offending behaviour. Exploiting the coercive potential of the justice system in this way can provide a powerful mechanism for encouraging or incentivising illicit drug users to engage in a therapeutic intervention (including diversion to forms of education, advice and/or assessment)– using a range of both positive and negative forms of reinforcement . Models in some jurisdictions draw explicitly upon constraint-based strategies which seek to remove or restrict opportunities for noncompliance by elevating the risk and severity of punishment. These constraint-based approaches can involve the use of formal controls such as drug testing, physical restraints like curfews and electronic tagging, or restrictions on associates and places to promote engagement and compliance. Sanctions such as fines and short spells of incarceration can also feature as constraint-based elements of ‘coerced’ treatment approaches. Hawaii’s Opportunity with Probation Enforcement (HOPE) programme and South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project are high-profile examples of such an approach.
Posted on by Kelly Smith