Pubdate: Sat, 31 Dec 2016
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Emile Therien
Page: B6


Re: 'We hope to give them a second chance': Rural drug court thrives, 
Dec. 25.

Drug courts have been in existence for well over 20 years, but have
not stopped the rise in drug use or reduced costs to the criminal
justice system. As well, the fact that drug courts require a guilty
plea to a crime before one is eligible for participation raises
ethical, moral and legal questions and concerns.

That said, this alternative program 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.

Despite their imperfections, drug courts are a step in the right
direction. Reducing or withdrawing funding from this program would be
a travesty of justice and would fly in the face of public health. The
challenge is to expand their availability across the province.

Emile Therien, public health and safety advocate, Ottawa
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