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"It was due to the high incidence of crime in Jamaica committed by persons while under the influence of Drugs that the Jamaican Parliament in 1999 created the Drug Court (Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act which came into effect in 2001 along with the Drug Court (Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders) Regulations. The Act created a Court which was to be different from the other courts throughout the island of Jamaica with its primary mandate being the treatment rather than the trial of individuals. The Drug Court was designed to tackle the drug problem in the society. The object of the Court is to reduce the incidence of drug use and dependence by persons whose criminal activities are found to be linked to such dependence, to reduce the level of criminal activity that results from drug abuse and to provide such assistance to those persons as will enable them to function as law abiding citizens. It is a joint venture between the Ministry of Justice, the Court Management Services and the Ministry of Health and to this end at the inception of the programme a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by both Ministries which meant that persons from both Ministries would work together with a common aim being to engage in the treatment and rehabilitation of these individuals. The Drug Court applies the tenets of Therapeutic Jurisprudence by offering an alternative to incarceration. It reverses the priority of the Courts and focuses on rehabilitation as a priority. The goal is to break the vicious cycle of drug addiction and to reduce recidivism with the aim of promoting social stability.
The Drug Court is presided over by a Resident Magistrate and two Justices of the Peace one of whom must be a female. This is no doubt because women are viewed as the gentle sex and perhaps it is thought that they will be more sensitive to the needs of the Drug Court participants. The Justices of the Peace bring with them their knowledge of life in Jamaica and their everyday experiences in dealing with the participants. The Resident Magistrate is the Chairman and therefore has a supervisory role. The Resident Magistrate heads the legal team which consists of the Justices, the Clerk of the Court and Defence Counsel and two probation officers. There is also a Treatment Provider team which is headed by the Consultant Psychiatrist and includes a Counsellor and an Administrative secretary. All these professionals have separate and distinct roles. The team in Kingston is indeed blessed with a group of professionals some of whom have been with the programme since its inception and have dedicated invaluable time to this programme sometimes going beyond the call of duty. The Drug Treatment Court sits every Wednesday afternoon at 2 o’clock. Prior to the commencement of Court there is a pre-court meeting where all team members are present and the participants on the list for the day are discussed and their progress monitored."
A Drug Treatment Court Concept by Resident Magistrate Stephane Jackson-Haisley
Chief Justice of Jamaica, the Honourable Mrs. Justice Zaila McCalla, OJ promoted the positive far reaching impact of the Drug Court Programme in Jamaica over the past 13 years. She made her remarks at the opening of a training workshop at the Hilton Rose Hall in Montego Bay on September 18 on Drug Treatment Courts and other problem-solving approaches to justice.
Read more HERE.
The Knutsford Court Hotel was the scene of the Drug Treatment Court Graduation ceremony on Wednesday November 27, 2013, as members of the legal fraternity, local business community. friends, families and well wishers gathered to witness the presentations of graduates of the Drug Treatment Rehabilitation Programme.
Read more HERE.
The Jamaican government has pledged its sustained commitment to the Drug Treatment Court in light of the role it is playing in striking a balance between holding individuals accountable and helping them to do better and be better human beings.
Read more HERE.