Drug Treatment Courts as Communicative Punishment

Michael M. O’Hear

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

Drug Treatment Courts as Communicative Punishment

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This chapter shows how drug court seems, in some respects, a more communicatively appropriate response to drug offenses than the conventional penal alternatives (simple incarceration and straight probation). It also identifies aspects of a drug court that seem quite communicatively problematic. The chapter is organized as follows. Section I summarizes key elements of Duff's communicative theory of punishment. Section II lays out some common design features of drug courts. Section III considers whether and to what extent drug courts respond to crime in a communicatively attractive fashion. Initially it is assumed that the crime put forward is one of simple drug possession. Then the suitability of the drug court for drug-trafficking offenders and drug-dependent nondrug offenders is considered. To the extent that drug courts are communicatively richer than conventional dispositions, they may be seen as part of a broader trend in criminal justice connected to restorative justice and other increasingly popular innovations. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of whether the apparent public interest in communicatively richer punishment may bode well for diminished reliance on incarceration, which seems a communicatively impoverished and inappropriate response to most crime.

Keywords: drug courts; drug offences; Duff; communicative theory of punishment; incarceration

Chapter.  11800 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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