Alternative sentencing options and treatment programs will continue to be available in Kings County for people whose addictions have led to criminal behaviour.
Atlantic Canada’s first court-monitored drug treatment program pilot was launched in April 2014 at the Kentville Law Courts. The province announced today, Sept.
25, that the program will continue to be delivered until 2018 with funding from the federal government.
“I am delighted that we are extending this important program,” said Justice Minister Diana Whalen. “Drug addictions often cause people to turn to crime to maintain their habits. This program is providing the necessary treatment and support that can help turn lives around.”
The program is designed to ensure offenders take responsibility for their actions and commit to addiction treatment. Participants charged with an offence and referred to the program must plead guilty. They also have to be enrolled in a treatment program before they return to court for sentencing. The court monitors their progress.
To graduate, participants must be drug free for at least three months, have stable housing, be involved in their community and have no outstanding criminal charges or charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
There are currently six active participants, several pending applications and two Nova Scotians have graduated from the program to date.
“This program, while influenced by other models and programs across the country, is unique to Kings County. We designed our program in a way that we could deliver and sustain it in our community,” said Kara Andrews, NSHA co-ordinator of Court-Monitored Drug Treatment Program. “I have witnessed the hard work, dedication and struggles of these individuals and it’s incredible to see the transformation that can happen.”
The court-monitored drug treatment program is supported by the provincial and federal governments, the provincial court, Nova Scotia Health Authority, local police, legal aid, the public prosecution service, the judiciary and community groups.