The Drug Court (Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act was passed in 1999.  The Drug Court came into operation in 2001.  A pilot project, with one court based at the Resident Magistrate Court  in Montego Bay and the other in Kingston.  Both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice are responsible for the operation of the Drug Court.   The Jamaican Drug Court is based on the Canadian model.

The objectives of the Act are:

  1. Reduce the incidence of drug use and dependence by persons whose criminal activities are found to be linked to such dependence.
  2. Reduce the level of criminal activity that results from drug abuse.
  3. Provide such assistance to those persons as will enable them to function as law abiding citizens. 

Accused persons appearing before the court who are assessed to be dependent on drugs/alcohol are
referred to a probation officer for a social enquiry report and thereafter an evaluation is carried out by the psychiatrist.   Judges, probation officers, police officers and defence counsel may make the recommendation for assessment. Once the person is deemed suitable and with their consent the treatment commence.    Court attendance, counselling with the treatment provider and random urine testing  are all  mandatory.   Rehabilitation may take between six months to two years.  

In the rehabilitation of the offender and in order to carry our the objectives of the Drug Court Act , we adapt the holistic approach.  Help is given by, Justices of the Peace who sit with the Drug Court Judge, treatment providers, probation officers, psychiatrists, Friends of the Drug Court, Government Organizations and NGO’s.  Our clients receive advice and guidance in  areas  such as family and emotional support, conflict management, education, employment, development of social skills, legal assistance.  

Recommendations have been for the expansion of the Drug Court based on the positive evaluations carried out to date.   Unfortunately the pilot project is still in place because of financial constraints.

To learn more, contact IADTC board member Winsome Henry at [email protected].