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Buffalo, New York, implements the nation’s first opioid court.

In May 2017, the city opened the nation’s first opioid intervention court, a specialty court based on the drug court model.Eric Westervelt, “To Save Opioid Addicts, This Experimental Court is Ditching the Delays,” NPR, October 5, 2017.

The court diverts people charged with nonviolent offenses who have opioid abuse disorders into treatment as an alternative to jail, fast-tracking a path to treatment prior to adjudicating their criminal cases.Eric Westervelt, “To Save Opioid Addicts, This Experimental Court is Ditching the Delays,” NPR, October 5, 2017. Yet such drug courts are not without their detractors. They have been criticized on a number of counts—for their tendency to over-mandate treatment, for prescribing treatment without the input of a medical professional, and for crowding already-burdened treatment centers.Physicians for Human Rights, Neither Justice nor Treatment: Drug Courts in the United States (New York: Physicians for Human Rights, 2017); and Nastassia Walsh, “Addicted to Courts: How a Growing Dependence on Drug Courts Impacts People and Communities,” Justice Policy Institute, March 22, 2011.