At a Glance: The Provincial Court of Alberta instituted specialized courts to handle prosecution in a therapeutic and culturally appropriate manner.
Drug Treatment Court: First established in 2005. Meant to stop the cycle of criminal behavior driven by drug addiction.
How Dtc Work: The program offers a comprehensive list of interventions meant to rehabilitate individuals with substance abuse problems with non-violent offences.
The Provincial Court of Alberta has undergone a significant evolution over the last three decades at the hands of the recognition that the traditional approach is not always the most appropriate for every population. As such, the authorities set up different courts to deal with prosecution in a culturally appropriate and therapeutic manner. One of these specialized courts is the drug court.
What is a Drug Court?
As the name suggests, drug courts are meant for people with substance use disorders. These programs give substance-abuse victims an opportunity to opt for long-term drug treatment under court supervision instead of a jail sentence (Orr, 2017). These programs are usually intensive and require that participants work towards implementing lasting lifestyle changes, take on responsibilities, and maintain recovery (Weinrath, et al., 2018). Participant progess is monitored and recorded and appropriate decisions made.
Alberta Drug Court
A Drug Treatment Court was started by the Provincial Court of Alberta in 2005. The program was created to halt drug-addiction-driven criminal behavior by giving participants with non-violent offences an opportunity to avoid jail time and enrol in a drug treatment program (Provincial Court of Alberta, n.d.). The program was designed to offer comprehensive interventions including social services support, sanctions, icentives, frequent drug testing, drug abuse treatment, and judicial supervision.
- Avoidance of incarceration costs
- Reduction in shelter costs
- Employment-related benefits like reduced turn-over and taxes
- Reduction in Child Services costs
- Reduction in costs associated with treating addiction-related behavioral and mental disorders
- Cost reallocation in the justice system
The following is a summary of the impact the program had between 2005 and 2010 as reported by The University of Alberta Faculty of Healthy Sciences (Provincial Court of Alberta, 2013).
Orr, D. (2017). A Criminal or Therapeutic Justice System: Examining Specialized Treatment Courts. Crim. LQ, 64, 180.
Provincial Court of Alberta. (2013). Alberta’s Drug Treatment Courts: An Essential Part of Alberta’s Justice Strategy. Web.
Provincial Court of Alberta. (n.d.). Specialized Courts. Albertacourts.ca. Web.
Weinrath, M., Gorkoff, K., Watts, J., Smee, C., Allard, Z., Bellan, M.,… & Cattini, M. (2018). Accessing drug treatment courts do age, race or gender matter?. Australian & New Zealand journal of criminology, 51(4), 619-637.