JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, has hailed the drug court programme, noting that it offers drug offenders “a second chance,” while reducing stress on the prison system.
  • Ms. Palmer was addressing the opening of a training workshop at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay on September 18, on the Drug Treatment Courts and other problem-solving approaches to justice.
  • Chief Justice, Hon. Zaila McCalla, said the training is “very timely and relevant, as we seek to promote alternatives to the incarceration of drug-dependent offenders”.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, has hailed the drug court programme, noting that it offers drug offenders “a second chance,” while reducing stress on the prison system.

“I believe that everyone deserves another chance. It is therefore essential that strategies are executed, which are aimed at restoring the lives of those who are affected (by drugs),” she said.

Ms. Palmer was addressing the opening of a training workshop at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay on September 18, on the Drug Treatment Courts and other problem-solving approaches to justice.

Approximately 60 professionals including judges, psychiatrists, attorneys-at-law, and drug enforcement personnel, are participating in the three-day event.

Chief Justice, Hon. Zaila McCalla, said the training is “very timely and relevant, as we seek to promote alternatives to the incarceration of drug-dependent offenders”.

She noted that the courts began some 13 years ago, “in recognition of the fact that drug abuse has to be tackled from all sides and the courts would have to play a part in fighting the effects of drug abuse on our people and our nation.”

She indicated that the approach utilized in the treatment process, is a holistic and therapeutic one, which is geared towards improving the social, vocational, educational, and economic conditions of the participants.

The aim is to reduce recidivism, promote abstinence from substance use, and encourage and assist participants to lead productive lives, free from drug addiction.  The programme provides an opportunity for drug-dependent offenders to benefit from court supervised treatment.  On successful completion of the programme, participants become eligible for graduation … it is a wonderful experience to listen to testimonies of the graduates regarding life-changing opportunities of being involved in the programme,” she said.

She noted that while there have been challenges, there have been numerous successes and “we continue to travel along this path because of the vision we have to bring the drug court within the reach of every eligible citizen of Jamaica.”

The training, which concludes on Saturday, is being held as part of the continuous education for persons already participating in implementing the drug court model in Jamaica, and general training for those new to the field.

Corporate Area Resident Magistrate, Stephanie Jackson-Haisley, in hailing the training, said it is clear that innovative and new strategies must be pursued to address some of those problems facing persons, who interface with the justice system.

“Rather than trials in all cases, referring some cases for alternative strategies (and outcomes) would no doubt impact on the backlog of cases in the court system,” she argued.

The workshop is organized by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, the Secretariat for Multi-dimensional Security of the Organization of American States (OAS), in collaboration with the Government of Canada, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, and the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA).