Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jun 2010
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Emile Therien


Re: 'When you want the drug, nothing else matters,' June 21.

Drug courts have been in existence for more than 20 years, but have 
not in any way stopped the rise in drug use or reduced costs to the 
criminal justice system.

The fact that drug courts require a guilty plea to a crime to be 
eligible for participation raises ethical, moral and legal questions 
and concerns. Because guilty pleas are required before drug addiction 
treatment is offered, according to the U.S. National Association of 
Criminal Defence Lawyers, "drug courts have become little more than 
conviction mills."

That said, this alternative program since its inception is a good and 
serious effort to treat drug addiction without the costly 
consequences of criminalizing the behaviours that sustain and support 
these habits. These courts, foremost, recognize that drug addiction 
is a public health problem best dealt with by those trained in the 
causes and treatment of addictions. These courts may be an important 
first step and acknowledgement that drug addiction is an illness that 
must and should be treated as a public health problem, away from and 
outside of the criminal justice system.

Emile Therien,


Public health and safety advocate
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart