Chief Justice Ivor Archie is confident that the Drug Treatment Court which will begin sitting in San Fernando next month will help break the vicious cycle of drug abuse. Describing the pilot project at the launch on Tuesday as a problem-solving court, Archie said two other similar facilities will be rolled out in?Port-of-Spain and Tunapuna within six months, and others as the programme develops. Justice Geoffrey Henderson, in giving an insight into how the court came to be, said the first sitting will be on October 3 at Madinah Building where the San Fernando Traffic and Family Courts are already housed. The Drug Treatment Court was a collaborative effort between the judiciary and Canada. Henderson said the current court system where drug offenders, both for possession and trafficking, appear before a senior magistrate was not achieving the desired results.
However, he said Drug Treatment Court offers a path that links treatment with a structured court supervised system. "I?am confident that the establishment of such a court will not only result in savings to the judiciary, Prisons Service and other state agencies, but more importantly, it offers those persons who are afflicted with the disease of addiction an opportunity to access a series of services under the umbrella of the court and equip them for a productive life with the development of healthy relationships," Henderson said. A juvenile component would be implemented in the Tunapuna and Port-of-Spain Drug Treatment Courts, as a significant number of youths had been appearing in court on myriad offences, he said.
Citing from various surveys on young people, Henderson said girls were equally active users of various substances as boys and 50 per cent of juveniles charged with criminal offences have neither legal representation or support from a parent. Archie made an appeal to stakeholders and members of the public to lend support as they seek to break the cycle of abuse, multiple arrests, recidivism, and ongoing deterioration of offenders who are hurting themselves and others. Acting Canadian High Commissioner Cyril Joseph said the Canadian government is helping to support the implementation of Drug Treatment Courts in Jamaica, T&T, Barbados and a growing number of other countries. He said drug courts help deal with offences in a holistic way by getting to the root cause of the problem and finding the best possible solution to break the cycle.