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DTC Background

 

Drug Treatment Courts in the Americas

Treatment alternatives to incarceration for drug-dependent offenders involve diverting substance-abusing offenders from prison and jail into treatment and rehabilitation under judicial supervision. By increasing direct supervision of offenders, coordinating public resources, and expediting case processing, treatment alternatives to incarceration can help break the cycle of criminal behavior, alcohol and drug use, and imprisonment. In various countries Drug Treatment Courts have proven to effectively reduce: (1) crime; (2) relapse into drug use; (3) the prison population; they are also cost-effective.

Drug dependency is a chronic, relapsing disease that must be dealt with as a core element of public health policy (see the Drug Hemispheric Strategy of 2010). The OAS, through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security has been working to promote drug treatment courts and similar court-supervised treatment alternatives to incarceration in the Americas.

Through a three year program, the OAS is supporting countries interested in promoting and/or consolidating this modality in the Hemisphere.

Background Drug Treatment Courts in the Americas

Since 2008, through various international initiatives, the OAS, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security has been working to promote drug treatment courts and similar court-supervised treatment alternatives to incarceration in the Americas.

The safety of the individual is as important as the security of the state. Policies that help prevent crime, violence and drugs are just as vital to community wellbeing as are law enforcement actions. Drug dependence is considered under the new Hemispheric Strategy of 2010 (approved by OAS member states) as a chronic relapsing disorder that must be addressed and treated as a public health matter, on a par with the treatment of other chronic diseases.

In various countries Drug Treatment Courts have proven to effectively reduce: (1) crime; (2) relapse into drug use; (3) the prison population; they are also cost-effective.

Some problems to be addressed through this project  

  • High drug consumption levels of drug use among the prison population
  • Drug dependent offenders often go back to court with same issues (due to drug relapse into drug use)
  • Lack of follow up and evaluation of drug dependent offenders who go through the current court system
  • High prison population in many of our member states due to drug related offenses
  • High costs of prison vs. lower cost of drug treatment courts

Lack of appropriate response to drug dependent offenders "Detox alone in jail or prison is not treatment… without proven treatment and therapeutic follow up in a community setting; addicted offenders are at a high risk of relapse despite a long period of forced sobriety."

This project presents the modality of drug treatment courts, already tested in countries like Chile, Canada and the US, among others, with positive results. Through this initiative, countries interested in drug courts will find a variety of activities and strategies to be carried out according to their priorities, needs, and level of commitment, so they can implement or consolidate the drug treatment court model in the Americas.

Only a few institutions and organizations are currently working in supporting this modality internationally, and only the OAS is doing so from an hemispheric perspective. This initiative is the consequence of prior actions carried out by the OAS (through CICAD/SMS) in the past three years, and is based on the results and discussions started through the EU-LAC Drug Treatment City Partnerships project. This proposal include activities aimed at obtaining the results listed below

Drug treatment courts handle cases involving drug-using offenders through a system involving comprehensive supervision, mandatory drug testing, treatment services (and other therapeutic interventions) and immediate sanctions and incentives. They provide the focus and leadership for community-wide, anti-drug systems, bringing together criminal justice, treatment, education and other community-based partners in the reduction of substance dependency and abuse and criminality.

updated on 7/21/2017 11:14:51 AM