Drug treatment court to open in Newfoundland

Newfoundland’s minister of Justice and Public Safety, and Attorney General the Honourable Andrew Parsons, announced yesterday the establishment of the Drug Treatment Court in St. John’s. This court will begin taking cases on November 30th.

This new Drug Treatment Court has been created with the goal of offering an alternative approach to those who have committed nonviolent, drug-motivated crimes due to serious drug addictions.This project has obtained federal funding and moves toward the idea of dealing with those who have drug-addictions less as criminals, and more as people who have illnesses which require help. The court will try and address underlying issues that motivated the crime, and brings together judicial supervision as well as treatment services. With this approach those who have committed drug-motivated crimes will not be left to deal with their substance abuse issues alone, but instead will be taken within a system which will set them up with long-term supports outside of the criminal justice system.

“Restorative justice plays an important role in the administration of justice and our government continues to explore innovative approaches to dealing with offenses. This Drug Treatment Court is a therapeutic alternative to the traditional court process. I would like to thank all those involved, especially the provincial judiciary and the steering committee led by John Duggan, for the tremendous amount of work that was done to get us here today.” ~ Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General

The idea is to create a system which will, over time, help bring down the number of drug-motivated crime by aiding those with the substance abuse issues to gain the help they need to overcome their addictions. There will be “court-monitored treatment, random and frequent drug testing, incentives and sanctions, intensive case management and social services support.” The court was created with the goal of setting up a network for the offenders which includes collaboration between the justice and health systems as well as social and community supports.

Newfoundland already has a number of court choices for varying types of cases to be heard that speak to specific situations. The Family Violence Intervention Court is a specialized criminal court wherein law operates in the same manner as any other court however it is set up and administered to specifically better serve victims of family violence and hold the offenders more accountable. The court was created to better serve the victims with their safety as a priority as well as having faster access to services to help the victims. The use of FVIC is completely voluntary for the accused.

The Mental Health Court is also a project of the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s) and was designed to help those in the system who require support due to mental health issues. It has an increased level of support within the community and social services, in concert with the criminal justice system giving those offenders who suffer from mental disorders medical support as well as community based support.

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