Retributivism, Proportionality, and the Challenge of the Drug Court Movement

Douglas Husak

in Retributivism Has a Past

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199798278
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919376 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Penal Theory and Philosophy

Retributivism, Proportionality, and the Challenge of the Drug Court Movement

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This chapter discusses the incompatibility between drug courts and retributivism. It is organized as follows. Section I briefly describes the phenomenon of therapeutic jurisprudence generally, and the drug court movement in particular. Section II raises normative concerns. It argues that we have overwhelming evidence that the dual-track system in which drug courts are embedded imposes punishments that violate the principle of proportionality. Section III indicates how existing practices might be reconciled with the normative worries that have been uncovered. It suggests that these difficulties are best resolved by a drastic change in contemporary drug policy. Although the public can continue to ignore the problems examined, penal theorists who take proportionality seriously can support drug courts only as a second-best alternative to the more radical solution of drug decriminalization.

Keywords: therapeutic jurisprudence; drug courts; dual-track system; punishment; drug policy; retributivism

Chapter.  11123 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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