The government of Barbados today signed an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) to implement a pilot Drug Treatment Court project to promote judicially supervised treatment alternatives to incarceration for drug dependent offenders.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and the Acting Assistant Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Angela Crowdy concludes the phase of negotiations and opens that of implementation. With the signing of the Memorandum, the OAS fully commits itself to promoting judicially supervised treatment alternatives to incarceration for drug dependent offenders in Barbados. The country now joins a selective group of others that have turned ideas into policies and practices, including Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.
On introducing the concept of drug treatment courts as an alternative to incarceration for drug dependent offenders last year, Attorney General Brathwaite said “From my end, I have bought into the concept of a drug treatment court. I believe our role is to save as many of our young men and young women as possible. What the court will do is enable us to sit down as a team and do exactly what we are presently doing, but with one objective, the objective is that we want to save the participant – not the defendant, not the criminal, the participant.”
Drug related crime carries implications for backlogs in the court system, cost of incarceration, recidivism, and public health. The OAS, through the Drug Treatment Court Program for the Americas, is supporting Member States to find better ways to treat individuals with a drug abuse problem, prevent violence, promote citizen security, improve neighborhoods and communities, and reduce the risk of relapse into drug use.
Throughout 2012, Barbados has participated in an international training workshop and hosted a sensitization workshop for Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs). Barbados will continue to receive training carried out by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, as part of the OAS Drug Treatment Court Program for the Americas. This has been possible thanks to the financial support and contributions of the government of Canada through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP).
Through these activities, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, police and probation officers, treatment providers, as well as policy makers involved in this process, are able to observe, analyze, and study the model in various countries where the DTCs are already operational. Other organizations, like the CARICOM Secretariat, together with experts from Canada, the United States, and Jamaica, also support the initiative.
The CICAD Executive Secretariat will, as a result of this MOU, begin the process of meeting with the Barbados DTC Steering Committee to work out an action plan for 2013-2014, outlining the steps that will be taken to implement, monitor, and evaluate the DTC project.
For more information about this initiative, contact Drug Treatment Courts for the Americas Project Manager Antonio Lomba, at firstname.lastname@example.org.