Workshop on drug treatment courts

The Organization of American States (OAS) says it has launched the third and final two-day regional training workshop on the Monitoring and Evaluation of Drug Treatment Courts (DTCs) in the Caribbean.

The OAS said on Thursday that participants at the workshop in Barbados, organized by the hemispheric body’s Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), included judicial, health and drug treatment officials from Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Canada, including the chief justices of Belize and Barbados.

Adriel Brathwaite, attorney general and minister of home affairs of Barbados, opened the workshop highlighting his country’s investment in the drug treatment court program, “to save our young people.”

He expressed gratitude for the support from the government of Canada and the United States to the OAS Drug Treatment Court program, while also expressing the view that the countries, including Barbados, should take responsibility for the initiative within their countries.

The OAS representative in Barbados, Francis McBarnette, noted that the training provides DTC teams in the country with an important resource, as monitoring and evaluation are crucial to the process of implementing DTCs.

The High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados and the OCES, Richard Hanley, said his country is pleased to fund this project given that DTCs help to provide an alternative to incarceration for drug-dependent abusers, and also to reduce crime, recidivism and overpopulation in prisons, “which is one of the biggest problems in Barbados,” according to the OAS.

“It is not only a public health issue, but also one of criminal justice,” Hanley said.

Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States to Barbados, Aruna Amirthanayagam, said that his country is pleased to support the program along with Canada.

Angela Crowdy, the assistant executive secretary of CICAD, stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluation, which is a priority for CICAD, in order to strengthen and expand the DTC program across the hemisphere “generating evidence which will allow us to demonstrate, over time, that the objectives have been achieved.”

CICAD plans to complete a Manual for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of Drug Treatment Courts by February, 2015, the OAS said.

It said this will include an external evaluation of the project as a whole, “so that findings can benefit the execution of future activities and related policy decisions.”

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