Hastings Law Journal


Ethan G. Kalett


America's increasingly aggressive anti-drug policies place extreme burdens on the courts, prisons, and probation programs. Yet despite these "zero tolerance" policies, drug addiction and alcoholism continue to rise. Recent evidence shows that addiction is a treatable condition, and that providing such treatment to certain types of convicted criminals can reduce recidivism. But providing such treatment can be time consuming and costly. Consequently, courts are taking increasing advantage of using Twelve Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous as low-cost, readily available treatment alternatives.

This Note explores whether diverting criminals to Twelve Step programs adequately safeguards the needs and aims of the criminal justice system-primarily rehabilitation, punishment, and the protection of society. It suggests that while certain offenders may benefit from such sentences, Twelve Step diversion is not appropriate per se for any particular offense. Rather, courts should establish criteria to assess offenders individually. Additionally, the criminal justice system should take steps to ensure that adequate supervision over diverted offenders is provided. The final sections of this Note suggest criteria for such assessment and supervision programs.

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