A better way out for youth gone astray
IN?THE?“NEXT COUPLE?OF?MONTHS”, if Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has his way, we could be seeing established our very own Drug Treatment Court.
The Attorney General’s seeming urgency in setting up this special court is rooted in the belief that it could only bring relief to, or, more importantly, save the lives of young drug-dependent Barbadians who end up before the criminal courts – sometimes again and again.
The insidious practice of robbery and theft to support drug dependency is not unknown.
It is this circumstance that drives Mr Brathwaite to pursue the curtailment of crimes upon the person, but at the same time to offer a lifeline to the perpetrators, who are themselves victims as well.
If the root cause of the crime is drug-related, the Attorney General argues, “then we need to find out how we can wean more of our young men and women off drugs”.
Without doubt, Mr Brathwaite will need all the support he can get; and so his call for “all to come on board” is not unreasonable. But it will take more than “a bit of passion” from his supporting team. It will require every ounce of commitment.
The cause will not be without its challenges, “new” initiative of the Government as it is, as the Attorney General himself recognizes. We surmise the prerequisite effort will be attitudinal; for the setting up of the Drug Treatment Court will not itself be too arduous a task.
For one thing, there is no need for any new buildings, any more staff, any “additional costs”. According to the Attorney General, what will happen is that the Drug Treatment Court will “enable us to sit as a team and do exactly what we are presently doing; but with one objective: to save the participant”.
We have similar courts to look at in the Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago, for example), the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere.
Reports coming out of these jurisdictions show consistently that the Drug Treatment Court effectively reduces recidivism and the underlying addiction problems of drug-dependent offenders since, in part, the supervision of those it seeks to help and restore to more responsible citizenship is much more comprehensive and practical in breaking the cycle of drug dependency by youth.
The word is that under this programme much less than 15 per cent of offenders run into trouble again with the law.
It is the kind of outcome we wish for the Attorney General – and Barbados.