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The effectiveness of the Treatment and Rehabilitation Programme of the Drug Court will be enhanced, with the procurement of 9,200 urine test kits for the detection of cannabis, cocaine and opiate.
The acquisition of the three-panel kits is being funded by the European Union (EU) at a cost of $1.62 million, under the Support to the Economic Reform Programme (SERP) III.
Industrial and Technical Supplies (Ja.) Limited, which was awarded a $789,130 contract earlier this year to supply the equipment, on Tuesday (Oct. 31), signed a contract for the remaining amount of $833,520.
Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Carol Palmer in her remarks at the signing ceremony held at her offices, said that, “this grant has made it possible to test participants of the programme regularly and to ensure a more reliable and consistent approach to monitoring.”
Mrs. Palmer explained that under the Drug Court Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, January 2001, convicted drug abuse offenders, may participate in the treatment and rehabilitation programme in lieu of sentencing, once they meet the medical and legal criteria and have given written consent, which is mandatory.
She further pointed out that the Act stipulated that the prescribed treatment programme should include random urinalysis testing for substances. “In order to facilitate these tests,” the Permanent Secretary said, “the required material or testing supplies must be available at all times.” However, since its inception, the programme has been challenged by inadequate supplies of the test kits, which are not readily available locally.
They are particularly important “because they are used by the court to determine whether persons remain in the programme or whether the sentences or the trial will proceed against the offender,” Mrs. Palmer explained.
Through the treatment programme, “the Drug Court is mandated to achieve a reduction in substance abuse and recidivism among non-violent and youth abuse offenders, as well as to rehabilitate drug abusers through intensive and continuous judicially supervised treatment, mandatory drug testing, and the use of graduated sanctions and other rehabilitation services,” she pointed out.
Established jointly by the Ministry of Health and the former Ministry of National Security and Justice, the treatment programme is being implemented as a pilot in Montego Bay and Kingston. Since its establishment, some 500 persons have been offered assistance. Approximately 70 per cent of that number have been eligible and has actually participated.
The “core outputs of this programme, are individuals who have been rehabilitated and have been assisted to function independently of the substance they abuse,” Mrs. Palmer said, noting that the support from the EU “will certainly contribute to the reduction of the number of drug abusers within our Jamaican society and an increase in the cadre of productive citizens.”
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