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Drug court to place offenders with serious problems into treatment will be established
18/11/1999 9:56 AM
A drug court to place offenders with serious drug problems into treatment under the supervision of the court will be established under the second
Together Against Drugs
Action Plan 1999 - 2001, released today by the Minister responsible for WA Drug Abuse Strategy, Rhonda Parker.
Mrs Parker said a feasibility study conducted earlier in the year found that a Drug Court was an effective way to deal with serious drug offenders.
The court, which will operate out of the District Court, will hear cases involving those with substantial drug addiction problems who have been convicted of serious offences.
Attorney General Peter Foss said the court would start as a pilot in Perth early next year and be progressively implemented across the State.
“Those charged have the choice of going through the normal court or the drug court, where they would probably get a suspended or deferred sentence as long as they committed to undergo treatment which could be in a drug rehabilitation centre attended on a residential or daily basis,” Mr Foss said.
“Offenders would have tests to check if they are using drugs and would regularly appear before the court to check how they are progressing.
“If offenders failed to maintain their treatment, the court could make them serve out their suspended sentence or in the case of a deferred sentence, serve a prison term.”
Mrs Parker said this significant initiative would improve the effectiveness of the Coalition Government’s efforts to rehabilitate offenders with substantial histories of drug addiction.
“The drug court would be part of a tougher approach to offenders designed to place more people into treatment,” she said.
Treatment was the intervention most likely to change drug users’ behaviour and prevent them from re-offending.
“Each stage of the criminal justice system provides an opportunity to engage more drug users into treatment,” Mrs Parker said.
Mr Foss said the comprehensive diversion strategy to compel drug offenders into treatment would also include an expansion of the established Court Diversion Service for repeat offenders committing simple drug and property offences.
Legislation to establish a compulsory treatment order under the Sentencing Act would assist with keeping offenders in treatment under the diversion strategy.
Mr Foss also said that the Ministry of Justice’s Drug Management Strategy would be progressively implemented to tackle the alcohol and other drug problems of offenders who, because of the seriousness of their crimes, faced imprisonment.
He said these would include:
expanded treatment opportunities throughout the prison sentence;
examination of drug free units in prisons; and -
expansion of the Prison to Parole Program to support prisoners and young people in detention completing sentences, and to ensure they continued treatment upon release.
Treatment services specifically linked to diversion will cost $775,000 this financial year increasing to $5,210,000 in 2002-03.
Mr Foss said research undertaken by the Ministry of Justice indicated that about 30 per cent of offenders fell into the category of offences directly related to addiction and substance abuse, and about 70 per cent of offenders had significant substance abuse problems.
Media contacts: Owen Cole: 9481 7810
Chris Morris: 9321 2222