Drug treatment courts improving lives, says Chuck
Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck says Drug Treatment Courts across the island are making an impact in transforming the lives of drug-dependent offenders.
Chuck cited the 2017 report from the drug court in Manchester, which pointed to “improvement in the participants’ behaviour as the court authorities monitor their treatment”.
He said the report further highlighted increased support and court attendance by family members of offenders.
Chuck was speaking at the opening of a two-day training workshop on alternatives to incarceration for individuals with a substance abuse disorder at his Constant Spring Road offices in St Andrew on Wednesday.
The Drug Treatment Courts provide for treatment and rehabilitation of persons with substance abuse problems under judicial supervision.
The focus is placed on non-violent criminal offenders who are identified soon after arrest and placed in the programme at their consent.
Regular drug tests are conducted in order to monitor their progress.
The intervention involves the participation of judges, prosecutors, defence counsel, substance abuse specialists, and law enforcement personnel.
Chuck, in hailing the work of the drug courts, said that providing assistance for persons with substance abuse problems is a crucial focus of the justice ministry in alleviating the pressure on the justice system.
He implored the authorities at the drug courts to remain steadfast in “engaging the community, going into schools, visiting the street corners” and spreading the message of drug-abuse prevention.
Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, for his part, pointed out that the establishment of the drug courts was in recognition that a new approach was required in dealing with offenders that places them in rehabilitation rather than behind bars.
Tufton said national drug prevention efforts need to incorporate best practices such as sustained interventions across developmental stages that include families and communities.
Dr. Tufton said that greater emphasis must be placed on building the capacity of teachers and guidance counsellors to detect risks and problems early, and interventions in the primary health care setting to address adolescent substance abuse before they advance into misuse and high-risk behaviour that may lead to criminal activity.
The two-day session involved a partnership with the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the Organization of American States, among others.