(Barbados Nation) Barbados’ first ever Drug Treatment Court opened yesterday and with it a promise of a similar set-up for domestic violence.
Decades after it was first recommended, the court was launched by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson at the Supreme Court Complex on Whitepark Road, St Michael.
“Nowadays courts are in problem-solving mode . . . . We are not just about writing decisions,” he said.
The court, a pilot project, is expected to be in operation by monthend, sitting in the afternoon, one day a week in Supreme Court No. 3. Chief Magistrate Pamela Beckles will be presiding over the court, which is expected to be fully implemented by May.
The court is expected to offer an alternative to non-violent offenders, whose drug-addiction was a factor in the commission of the crimes.
However, persons charged with committing any offence involving drug-trafficking, the use of violence, a weapon or any indictable offence cannot be part of the programme.
Additionally, Barbados should also soon be seeing an “integrated domestic violence court”, the Chief Justice said.
“We don’t need to have women going from pillow to post,” he said.
His plans for the judicial system also include a single court to take care of issues such as maintenance, divorce and domestic violence complaints.
The Drug Treatment Court will be working in conjunction with drug-treatment agencies such as the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA), the police, health services, defence attorneys, Probation Department and other relevant authorities.
On completion of the programme, persons will receive a participation certificate and will have no conviction recorded against them.
Speaking after the ceremony, Sir Marston said that confidentiality would have to play a major role in the success of the court. Since the aim was to help rehabilitate participants, it would not be in their best interest to have information made public.
He praised members of the court’s steering committee, which is chaired by Justice Randall Worrell and included Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and Chief Magistrate Beckles.