Pubdate: Tue, 20 Nov 2007
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Calgary Herald
Author: Colette Derworiz
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


A drug treatment court for addicts will continue operating for at 
least one more year after city council approved spending $250,000 in 
2008. The court, which has been running as a pilot project in the 
Salvation Army Centre of Hope, allows judges to send drug addicts who 
commit non-violent crimes for rehabilitative treatment instead of jail.

"It makes sense," said Mayor Dave Bronconnier, who, along with Ald. 
Druh Farrell, brought forward the request during budget talks Monday. 
"We are looking at people who have chronic dependencies on the street 
that are costing the city -- the taxpayer -- in some cases $150,000 
to $200,000 for one person."

Bronconnier said the drug court would take between 12 to 20 people 
off the street in 2008 by helping them get into drug rehabilitation programs.

Council unanimously approved the spending.

Still, some aldermen raised concerns about the lack of funding from 
other levels of government for the program, which is being run by the 
city and several judges who are volunteering their time to keep it operating.

"There is no criticism of the program," said Ald. Ric McIver. "I just 
worry about taking on things from the province that is their full 
right and responsibility -- and that they darn well should be 
funding, especially when it's so obvious . . . that it works."

Bronconnier acknowledged the court isn't a civic responsibility, but 
he suggested it's an important program to keep going.

"It's cost-effective," he said. "We only hoped they would have fully 
funded a drug court here in Calgary rather than one in the city to the north."

Unlike Edmonton, Regina, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, Calgary 
didn't receive federal money for a pilot project, but cobbled 
together $100,000 last year to get it started in 2007.

The $250,000 for 2008 will be funded out of a rainy-day fund, so it 
won't affect homeowners' taxes.
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