Chief Justice, Zaila McCalla, says the Drug Treatment Court for Children which started as a pilot in September 2014, at the Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court, is one of the many success stories, that have emerged from the court system.
She was speaking at a Children’s Drug Treatment Programme Seminar, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston at the weekend.
Justice McCalla noted that previously, the drug treatment programme only catered to adults from its inception in 2001, but was extended to children after the Kingston and St. Andrew Court expressed the need for such a programme.
This, as it was found that children who come before the court, whether for criminal activities, in need of care and protection or are uncontrollable, are sometimes addicted to drugs.
She says there was recognition of awareness that some youths are at risk of becoming hardened criminals and drug addicts at younger and younger ages unless there is some urgent and fundamental intervention.
Mrs. McCalla further informed that so far, eight children graduated from the first programme and there are now some 30 participants in that system.
She says St. James has also established a Children’s Drug Treatment Programme and that is ongoing.
Additionally, five Adult Drug Treatment Courts have been established across the island to date.
The drug treatment courts were designed to provide judicial supervision to drug dependent offenders who have consented to participate in the programme.
They benefit from a course of treatment and regular monitoring by the court to ensure that they abstain from drugs.
The courts also receive assistance with evaluation of the offenders under the United States Agency For International Development’s (USAID) Community Empowerment and Transformation Project, Phase 2 (COMET II).
The Children’s Drug Treatment Programme Seminar was intended to engage and equip individuals and agencies affiliated with the well-being of children, especially court practitioners from the Family Courts and Children’s Courts from across Jamaica.