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Court-supervised treatment alternatives to incarceration for drug-dependent offenders: the drug policy agenda

 

  

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 This publication has been prepared as a follow-up to “Establishing Drug Treatment Courts: Strategies, Experiences and Preliminary Outcomes,” prepared by the Organization of the American States (OAS) and American University in 2010 to provide an overview of Drug Treatment Court (TDC) activity in countries where these programs were being planned and/or implemented. The 2010 publication provided a snapshot of the planning issues, operational characteristics, and implementation experience of 20+ programs (in addition to those in the U.S.) that had been implemented in 14 countries along with various programmatic and policy issues that were being addressed in varying degrees. The present publication is designed to address in greater depth these major policy and implementation issues that these 20+ Drug Treatment Courts were addressing and programs will need to continue to address as DTCs mature and evolve. These relate to:

• determining who DTCs should serve;
• bringing together the justice system, public health and other sectors to work collaboratively to provide the infrastructure and support these programs require;
• developing sound treatment practices and services that reflect ongoing research findings and are adapted to the various cultures and environments in which DTCs need to operate;
• identifying meaningful performance measures that can track the impact – and benefit – of DTCs for both individual participants and the communities in which they live; and, most important,
• sharing the “lessons learned” by justice system, public health and other leaders involved with DTCs in the course of shifting policy and practice from a primarily punitive to a more therapeutic/treatment oriented response to drug use which is consistent with the findings resulting from both scientific research and practical experience.

The authors contributing to this publication are drawn from multiple disciplines and a range of countries in which the Drug Treatment Court model has been implemented and who share their perspectives and experiences regarding issues relevant to the design and implementation of drug treatment courts. The editors have made every effort to include each chapter as presented by the authors. The views expressed in each chapter do not necessarily represent the views of all contributors, nor of the sponsoring institutions.

Background

Dr. Caroline Cooper, Research Professor and Associate Director of the Justice Programs Office, School of Public Affairs, American University; Dr. David Wexler, Professor of Law-Director of the International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Judge Paul Bentley, Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice and Chair of the IADTC; Dr. Grace Campbell, Senior Medical Officer for Glasgow Addiction Services, United Kingdom; Judge Jorn Dangreau, Court of first instance of Ghent, Drug Treatment Court Judge, Belgium; Prosecutor Annemieke Serlippens, Office of the public prosecutor of Ghent, Department of Organized Crime, Prosecutor at the Drug Treatment Court in Ghent, Belgium; Dr. Myo Oo, Psychiatrist. Senior Medical Officer Bellevue Hospital. Kingston, Jamaica; Lic. Luz María García Rivas, Coordinator of Prevention of Addiction Program in the National Institute for Government Workers of Mexico and  Dr. Anna Chisman, then Head of Demand Reduction CICAD/SMS/OAS met in Washington D.C early November to discuss the second publication of the DTC with the help of CICAD and American University. This publication is a continuation to the one  published in Lugo. The rest of the authors of this publication are: Magistrate Michael King, Courthouse of Kununurra West Australia; senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Monash University in Melbourne;  Dr. Douglas B Marlowe, Director of the Division on Law & Ethics Research at the Treatment Research Institute (TRI) and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine, lawyer and clinical psychologist and member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, NADCP; and Ana María Morales Peillard, Attorney and Director of the Justice and Reinsertion Section of  Paz Ciudadana Foundation (Chile)

Our initial publication addressed the experiences of the various countries that had implemented drug treatment courts – why they initiated these programs, who was involved in planning them, the targeted population for services, and the impacts, at least initially, that resulted. 

We also looked at the challenges that were encountered, both anticipated and unanticipated and found common themes among all the programs that had been involved, most of which entailed public policy issues affecting a wide range sectors and services that needed to be dealt with in every country and required leadership at all levels to meaningfully address.

These are the critical policy areas we want to address in this second publication and  include strategy development to:

  • Change the culture of the criminal justice system to incorporate a therapeutic orientation into the handling of criminal offenders who are addicted;

  • Change the culture of the delivery of drug treatment services to deal with criminal offenders constructively and collaboratively with criminal justice system officials;

  • Develop necessary support for DTC initiatives – philosophically as well as materially.  This includes reaching out to the agencies whose resources are essential and which need to work together collaboratively rather than in the silos most currently work in  – housing, vocational, educational, mental health, etc. since one of the key lessons we have learned is that most frequently substance abuse is but the presenting problem with many other underlying problems needing to be addressed if the substance abuse treatment is to be effective;

  • Developing awareness in all sectors of the community that treatment of addiction for drug dependent offenders is a COMMUNITY issue, not simply a criminal justice one. In this regard, letting the community know what these programs are doing, what services they are providing, what their impact is in terms of both public safety, public health, and community well-being is critical and must be an on-going task;

  • Promote recognition among city leadership of the role of these drug treatment courts/ alternatives to incarceration and how various local initiatives need to be coordinated to support them; and, most significantly

  • Develop initiatives to provide specialized services to youth and young adults who, in every country that reported, are desperately in need of sustained and broad based assistance, without which they are likely to continue falling through the cracks of whatever “systems” have been developed.

The themes that will flow through the chapters of this second publication will address these issues with a stress on the LEADERSHIP that is needed at all levels and the coordination and communication that have been found to be essential.  We hope that this second publication will therefore be a complement to the first, addressing the key policy issues that are essential to making efforts to constructively and therapeutically address substance abuse and crime successful and sustainable.

 

 


updated on 10/24/2013 4:07:50 PM