Actor Martin Sheen, father of the infamous Charlie Sheen, appeared at a Congressional briefing on Friday to defend drug courts. His testimony comes on the heels of two think tank reports that criticized the courts.
There are nearly 2,500 drug courts throughout the country, Time reports. At a Congressional briefing on drug courts sponsored by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), Sheen called drug courts “the very best deal Congress can make to reduce crime and the social consequences related to drug addiction.”
Drug courts assign offenders to treatment and supervision, instead of jail. Time reports that at the briefing, Doug Marlowe, chief of science, law and policy for the NADCP pointed to research on the effectiveness of drug courts in reducing crime and saving money. But recent reports issued by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Justice Policy Institute say that drug courts cherry pick the criminals most likely to succeed, thus inflating the courts’ rates of success. They also criticize the power given to drug court judges and point to the instances where offenders who participate in drug court but don’t recover quickly end up with longer prison terms than they would have if they had pleaded guilty and avoided drug court.