Categorized | National News

Gov’t Explores Drug Treatment Court

The government is exploring a strategy that would possibly reduce the number of people imprisoned for minor drug charges.

According to National Security Minister, Dr. Bernard Nottage, a drug treatment court (DTC) would be used in the case of young people found in possession of small amounts of drugs.

It would be supported, he said, by lawyers, judges, social workers, counselors and psychologists.

“Rather than put them behind bars, put them in a programme for a minimum of one year, which enables them to be monitored, to achieve skills training so that they are equipped to work in our economy,” Minister Nottage said.

“We believe that having examined the success of these drug treatment courts in Canada, Jamaica, Trinidad and other places that this can help us enormously to find those young persons who can be reformed and put them in a system where they will be reformed, providing community service, being monitored and hopefully returning to the straight and narrow.”

A recent phenomenon in the Canadian criminal system, the first Canadian DTC began in 1998.

According to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, while there is no single universal DTC model, the core underlying characteristics remain the same.

Key differences include eligibility criteria, when the case is diverted from the prosecution and end of programme outcomes.

Such courts are aimed at stopping drug abuse and related criminal activity of offenders through court-directed treatment and rehabilitation programmes.

In 2012, Trinidad and Tobago opened a pilot drug treatment court with support from the Organisation of American States (OAS).

“As we introduce these new policies, we want to include the public’s ideas,” Dr. Nottage said.

“We want the public to be constructive and to help us.”

Next Thursday, law enforcement officials will host a listening forum, giving everyone the opportunity to present their ideas on what could be done or constructively critique what is being done to fight crime.

“We are not going to have much to say at all but just sit and listen,” the minister said.

“Our desire is to reduce the need for punishment by increasing the prevention of crime. While the crime trend is downward it is not satisfying to me. We have a lot of work to do.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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