University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review

Document Type



In June 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a War on Drugs. As the War on Drugs continued throughout the 1980s, drug-related convictions increased, leading to overcrowding in prisons across the United States. Drug courts operate as an alternative to incarceration in which criminal defendants enter court mandated drug treatment programs. Judges monitor the progress of drug court participants through scheduled status hearings. However, contrary to their purpose, drug courts may contribute to incarceration by presenting the risk of an increased number of drug-related arrests in those jurisdictions that have implemented drug courts and long jail sentences imposed as sanctions for repeated violations. This Article explores solutions to curb the potential drug-related arrests and long jail sentences, namely (1) the decriminalization of drug offenses, (2) providing greater funding to outside treatment programs, (3) removing incarceration as a sanction, and (4) permitting violent offenders to enter drug court programs.