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A Tennessee Judge’s Outrageous Abuse of the Drug Court System

A Tennessee judge has taken the controversial proof of drug courts to a ridiculous and punitive extreme by jailing drug probity participants for having smoked cigarettes.

That’s right, Hamilton County Drug Court Judge Tom Greenholtz has taken it on himself to retaliate people under his organisation for using a authorised piece since he thinks doing so will give them a “better possibility at life.”

Earlier this month, he jailed a handful of drug probity participants who came up certain for nicotine in court-mandated drug tests.

“We customarily test for nicotine as we do for other tranquil substances,” Greenholtz told Chattanooga TV hire Newschannel 9, blithely ignoring the fact that nicotine is not a tranquil piece under state or sovereign law and that cigarette smoking is not a crime.


As for throwing untimely drug probity victims in jail for violating his capricious edict: “It shows how critical we are about combatting this,” he said.

Drug courts first seemed in the 1990s as a response to the superfluous jails and prisons generated by the fight on drugs and were designed to keep drug users out of jail by subjecting them to heated legal slip full with jail dungeon punishments for people who relapsed while under supervision.

But from the beginning, while prosecutors and drug probity judges give mouth service to the widely supposed thought that drug obsession is a chronic, relapsing medical condition, the drug probity indication punishes people for pang that medical condition. And now, Judge Greenholtz has taken that antithesis to a whole new level.

He is punishing people who may indeed be physically dependant to nicotine even nonetheless using or possessing nicotine is not a crime. That’s what can occur when you let judges act like doctors.

As a means of traffic with drug-addicted people, drug courts are benevolent only in comparison with imprisonment. The immeasurable infancy of drug probity participants are there only since they got held using or possessing drugs. In an cordial society, we would possibly offer them assistance if they enterprise it or just leave them alone (not detain them in the first place) absent mistreat to themselves or others. Instead, with drug courts, we theme them to heated legal inspection and retaliate them for relapsing.

As the Drug Policy Alliance remarkable in a ban 2014 report on drug courts:

Drug courts have widespread opposite the country, nonetheless accessible investigate does not support their continued expansion. Most drug courts do not revoke imprisonment, do not save income or urge open safety, and destroy to help those struggling with drug problems. The drug probity indication must be corrected to play a some-more effective role in improving the contentment of people concerned in the rapist probity complement who humour piece injustice problems – while preserving wanting open reserve resources.

Throwing people in jail for smoking does not seem to be “improving the contentment of people concerned in the rapist probity system” or “preserving wanting open reserve resources.”

There is some systematic investigate suggesting that people who quit smoking cigarettes do better in recuperating from drug dependency, but that investigate finds only tiny differences. That study found a small 3% disproportion in liberation rates between people who had quit smoking and those who hadn’t. And the people in the study who had quit smoking had finished so voluntarily—not under hazard of imprisonment.

People who had actually participated in the Hamilton County Drug Court had a opposite take.

Paula Brazzell told Newschannel 9 she had been dependant to pain pills for years, it took her several attempts to get clean, and that cigarettes helped.

“I consider so, yeah,” she said. “It calmed me down.”

One of Brazzell’s friends was partial of the organisation Judge Greenholtz jailed for smoking this month. Brazzell couldn’t trust it.

“You’re holding up those cells, paid for by taxpayer dollars to put somebody in jail for unwell a nicotine test? we meant come on,” she said.

Drug courts are a very blunt apparatus with which to residence drug dependency. They turn even some-more controversial when used as social engineering to retaliate people who aren’t committing any crime other than a social mistake pas by smoking.  


Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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