Department or Program



This thesis evaluates Adult Drug Court in Maine through Foucauldian and carceral state perspectives. The expansion of the U.S. penal system through key political events including the 1960s War on Crime and the 1980s War on Drugs fueled the rise of the “carceral state.” This punitive turn in American governance has created serious problems of mass incarceration, bias in criminal justice, and societal and political marginalization of ex-offenders, especially in connection with drug crime. Adult Drug Court was first adopted in the United States in 1989 as an alternative to incarceration for drug-addicted offenders and has since spread to every state and territory. It is a drug treatment program led by a team of legal and treatment professionals and has been reported as a success largely in terms of reducing recidivism. Determining whether drug court is an alternative to traditional incarceration, however, requires evaluating its relationship to the carceral state and whether it reproduces or counteracts core problems of punishment, surveillance, and bias. This thesis gauges the relationship of Adult Drug Court to the carceral state in Maine through interviews with drug court and traditional criminal justice professionals as well as direct observations of the program. I conclude that drug court in Maine is an improvement upon carceral state conceptions of punishment and surveillance as well as success and effectiveness. However, it is another vehicle of carceral state development in that it relies on the threat of punishment and does not fully address important structural obstacles to reintegration.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Engel, Stephen

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.