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Alternatives to incarceration have been a subject of discussion in Barbados for some time. Judges and magistrates within the discretion given to them by law on occasion have explored innovative ways to deal with offenders other than sending them to prison. The initiative of the Inter American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) to promote a hemispheric project on Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs) as an alternative to incarceration was therefore seen by the government as a positive development.
In December 2010, Barbados indicated its willingness to join the CICAD project and in March 2012 a team led by the Honourable Adriel Brathwaite, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs and including Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson participated in a Study Visit and Exchange Program for the Caribbean to Toronto, Canada. These officials were able to observe DTCs in operation in Toronto, to speak to judicial officials and to share experiences with other participating Caribbean jurisdictions. The Attorney General indicated on his return to Barbados that he was impressed by what he saw and was convinced that the country should explore the introduction of a DTC pilot.
In March 2013, Barbados joined the fraternity of countries with DTCs when the Honourable Adriel Brathwaite signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CICAD to implement the DTC model. The MOU formalized the participation of Barbados in the hemispheric project and detailed the technical assistancewhich would be provided by CICAD to support the initiative.
The Barbados Drug Treatment Court Steering Committee which was formed after the signing of the MOU in March 2013 has held some twenty (20) meetings. The Committee has been able to put the DTC infrastructure in place and established a Court Team.
The Drug Treatment Court had its first formal sitting at the Supreme Court at White Park Road in the city of Bridgetown on Wednesday, 14th January 2015.
The Barbados Drug Treatment Court started its work with a cohort of sixteen (16) potential clients. The Court, after the assessment process, now operates with thirteen (13) clients; twelve (12) men and one (1) woman. These clients have all come into contact with the criminal justice system for possession of a controlled substance, in this instance marijuana.
The Barbados Drug Treatment Court has received counseling support from a registered charity, the Centre for Counseling Addiction Support Alternatives (CASA) with clients visiting the Centre at least once per week. The reports are distributed to the Court Team and discussed in the pre-court meetings. CASA has also held sessions for the family of some of the clients to integrate them into the treatment and rehabilitation process.
The compliment of counselors available to CASA and the DTC is very small and given the importance of this activity in the treatment of clients we have identified that this area will require greater support.
Drug testing of the Drug Treatment Court has been carried out by the Forensic Science Centre of the Government of Barbados.
The Forensic Science Centre has chosen to utilize urine testing since, in their view, they consider this test to be reliable and cost-effective. Samples of urine from clients are taken at the Forensic Science Centre and a quantitative result is produced for the Court. This method has allowed a reliable tracking of the progress of clients.
The Court with assistance from the United States Embassy in Barbados has acquired urine test kits which will be used also for random test by the counselors.
TWELVE PERSONS, 11 males and one female, are now being monitored by Barbados’ Drug Treatment Court, after it held its first session on January 14, at the Supreme Court of Barbados.
Read more HERE.
The Barbados Drug Treatment Court held it first formal session at the Supreme Court of Barbados at Whitepark Road in the city of Bridgetown. The Drug Treatment Court initiative, supported by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States (OAS), has emerged as one alternative to incarceration that emphasizes community-based substance abuse treatment and supervision of addicted non-violent criminal offenders.
Read more HERE.