Judges, prosecutors examine incarceration alternatives

The Organization of American States (OAS) said on Feb. 27 that 40 Caribbean judges and prosecutors are among other professionals receiving training on alternatives to incarceration.

The Washington-based hemispheric body said the initiative, under its auspices, is also training defense attorneys, treatment providers and other professions in the healthcare and justice fields in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, The Bahamas, and Grenada.

The OAS said the training involves the workings of Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs), a model that proves to be an effective measure as an alternative to incarceration for violators who are addicted to drugs.

“The OAS is supporting the model of Drug Treatment Courts in the hemisphere as an effective and efficient tool to treat violators who are addicted to drugs and achieve a reduction in drug consumption, lower crime rates and help to reduce the criminal population in the region,” said Amb. Paul Simons, executive secretary of the OAS Inter-American Commission for Drug Abuse Control (CICAD).

The project, by the CICAD and the Canadian Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals (CADTCP), began on Feb. 27 and concludes on Mar. 2 in Toronto, the OAS said.

It said CICAD and the CADTCP are in the process of signing a cooperation agreement that will allow this effort to continue over the next two years.

The OAS said various members of the hemispheric organization already have a calendar of activities for the start of pilot projects in this modality.

It said the seminar is divided into two parts, in which participants attended a practical training program that includes a visit to a DTC in the first half of the week.

The OAS said the more than 40 Caribbean delegates will be taught based on a real case, and later will visit healthcare institutions for people with drug addictions where they will have the opportunity to observe the treatment protocol used.

Afterwards, they will have first-hand experience of a real session before a hearing, where cases are followed up on and progress is evaluated.

In the second half of the week, the OAS said delegates attended the Fourth Conference of the CADTCP, where they had the opportunity to present the problems they faced, as well as attended workshops on the subject.

In this workshop, the delegates were able to interact with hundreds of experts from Canada in the different areas that participated in a DTC, the OAS said.

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