Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Chuck: Drug Treatment Court is alternative to incarceration

Published:Friday | September 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Chief Justice Zaila McCalla (left) talks with Delroy Chuck (right), minister of Justice, and Dr Karen Webster-Kerr just before the start of the National Council on Drug Abuse Awareness and Capacity-Building Workshop for the Expansion of Drug Treatment Courts for adults and juveniles in the Caribbean. The workshop was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew on Wednesday.

Additional resources must be pumped into projects such as the Drug Treatment Courts to strengthen its infrastructure as an effective alternative to jail time, noted Justice Minister Delroy Chuck.

"The Government places on record our continued commitment to the Drug Treatment Court. The high number of youths smoking ganja, cocaine, and using other forms of hard drugs does not augur well for Jamaica's future," Chuck said at the Awareness and Capacity-Building Workshop for the Expansion of Drug Treatment Courts in the Caribbean at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston earlier this week.

He pointed out that the conventional methods of crime fighting have become inadequate, and in the case of non-violent offenders charged with possession of drugs, the opportunity is there to receive treatment instead of spending time behind bars.

"What we are witnessing is how the State can leverage its resources to serve the people of Jamaica better by decreasing the numbers of non-violent offenders placed in our penal system," the minister said.

The Drug Treatment Courts began sitting in 2001.

 

SMASHING SUCCESS

 

Chief Justice Zaila McCalla praised the programme, des-cribing it as a smashing success and noting that expansion is the next natural step.

"You have heard of the many success stories we have had with persons graduating, and we have it in only five parishes, but now we are hoping to expand," said McCalla.

McCalla said that the Drug Treatment Court model is a collaboration of different entities striving towards the same aim, which is the treatment and rehabilitation of some of our most vulnerable citizens.

The programme began with only two courts, one in the Corporate Area and the other in St James. Since then, three more - in St Thomas, St Catherine, and Manchester - have been added.

... Drug treatment also available for juvenile delinquents

Jamaica has a drug-treatment programme geared at children who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law, noted Chief Justice Zaila McCalla.

"I'm particularly proud of the drug-treatment programme that is established in the Family Courts in Kingston and St Andrew and also St James. These programmes are geared at the edification of our children, preventing them from becoming drug dependent," said the chief justice at the Awareness and Capacity-Building Workshop for the Expansion of Drug Treatment Courts in the Caribbean at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston earlier this week.

"Soon to be, these children will be brought under the umbrella of our Drug Treatment Courts as it is my understanding that the Ministry of Justice is pursuing legislation in this regard."

Jeanelle van Glaanenweygel, the Organisation of American States representative, said that she was proud of Jamaica's leadership on the matter, telling delegates from several Caribbean countries that that was paramount to the programme's successful replication in their respective territories.

Delegates from host country Jamaica were joined in the three-day workshop by counterparts from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com