Drug treatment courts being promoted for Caribbean

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Monday January 31, 2011 – More than 70 of the region’s judges and other representatives from the judiciary system in the Caribbean are to be trained to assist the region in establishing and strengthening Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs).

They will participate in a high-level four-day training conference entitled ‘Establishing and Consolidating Drug Treatment Courts in the Caribbean: a Team Effort’ set for Montego Bay, Jamaica, starting on Wednesday.

The training intervention forms part of a broader initiative – the Caribbean Drug Treatment Court Project – to help curb substance abuse and its social consequences in the Caribbean, by developing and implementing policies that promote alternatives to incarceration for drug dependent offenders. 

CARICOM, aided by the European Union through the 9th European Development Fund, is giving strong support to this project which was designed on the premise that “policies which help prevent crime, violence and drugs are just as vital to community well-being as law enforcement actions”, a statement from the CARICOM Secretariat said. 

One of the alternative practices being advocated under the project is the introduction of judicially supervised treatment for some types of drug dependent offenders. 

“Baseline research has indicated that over the past twenty years, this practice has proved to be effective in not only helping many countries to reduce crime and high incidence of relapse into drug use, but has also served to curtail the economic costs of incarceration,” CARICOM said. 

The workshop in Jamaica is one of the first activities under the DTC project. It brings together judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment providers, and probation officers from the host country and DTC teams from Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

This DTC project is a collaborative effort coordinated by the Organization of the American States (OAS), through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, and funded by the Government of Canada.

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