The Breach—’We Don’t Heal from It.’
Episode Four: The Catch-22 of Drug Courts

In this episode, host Lindsay Beyerstein and expert Denise Tomasini-Joshi debunk damaging myths surrounding the supposedly compassionate criminal justice alternative known as the drug court system.

Season Four of the The Breach explores one central question: What happens when drug use during pregnancy becomes a felony?

In our last episode, we met Reneé, a woman jailed under 240-D, a unique law in Fort Peck, Montana, that criminalizes substance use during pregnancy. As part of her sentence, Reneé was required to participate in a special court in the Fort Peck justice system known as Healing to Wellness Court.

This is the tribal system’s version of a drug court, which is often billed as a more humane solution to drug-related crime. Today there are more than 3100 drug courts operating in the United States, including more than 70 Healing to Wellness Courts. But beneath the assurances of compassion and the glossy data suggesting success lurk very real concerns about the effectiveness of this system.

In this episode, host Lindsay Beyerstein speaks with drug court expert Denise Tomasini-Joshi. Together, they unpack the reality behind these band-aid courts and reveal how a seemingly humane solution falls short in practice.

This is Episode Four. Click here for the full series.

Transcript (PDF)


Lindsay Beyerstein: Creator/Writer/Host
Nora Hurley: Producer
Mary Annette Pember: Editorial Advisor
Laura Huss: Research Director
Marc Faletti: Executive & Supervising Producer
Douglas Helsel: Original Music Composer
Jo Constantz: Fact Checker