Drug Treatment Court can reduce drug addict cases— Justice Kofi Barnes
Law enforcement officers were on Thursday engaged in a Drug Treatment Court Awareness Workshop, intended as a preventative measure in controlling the number of drug addicts within the country.With partnering agencies such as the National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA); the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat; the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), the engagement sought to establish that drug abusers could be reintegrated into society thus preventing them from entering the drug arena.Speaking at the workshop, Justice Kofi Barnes of the Ontario High Court pointed out that recovery through a drug treatment court was important to end the scourge of an unending cycle, which may present itself in a person’s metamorphosis.He explained that when persons were indicted for a drug-related offence and were sentenced to prison, they served the required time and returned to that lifestyle once they were out on the streets again. However, the court breaks this cycle by allowing addicts to receive assistance, medically and mentally.He added that countries that turn to the judicial system to fix the high number of drug addict cases have saved millions of dollars in just one year.“Ottawa in Canada calculated that based on the number of persons that have been going to the Drug Treatment Court, they have been able to save the justice system three million dollars a year… It costs money. If it is the healthcare services that they are using, it costs money. Police Officers always going to arrest them, it costs money. All these things, by going through the programme, is saving an additional nine million dollars.”Throughout the workshop, participants were briefed on plans which are crucial in establishing such a court, the importance of monitoring the drug treatment court model, treatment issues and international approaches which are to be implemented for successful results.For 2017, 55,139 kilograms (121,305.8 pounds) of narcotics was seized according to NANA. Law enforcement agencies seized the narcotics, which include substances such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy; and have even managed to eradicate over 117,000kg (257,400 pounds) of marijuana plants.The drugs were said to be valued in excess of $20 billion, and were snatched from the streets, while more than 300 persons have also been convicted for various drug crimes. A report issued in September of 2018 claimed that combined efforts by the Public Health, Education and Public Security Ministries, along with several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), resulted in over 900 persons receiving training in drug prevention and drug supply reduction, to work with youths and at-risk populations. Further, over 100 persons have reportedly received specialised treatment for problematic drug use via the Phoenix Recovery Project and the Salvation Army Men’s Social Service.