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Connolly, Johnny (2011) Drug Treatment Court reports progress. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 38, Summer 2011 , pp. 14-15.

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In May 2010, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD, published a review by his department of the Drug Treatment Court (DTC) which has been operating in Dublin since 2001.1 

Highlighting the low number of participants entering and successfully completing the DTC Programme, the review made several recommendations designed to improve the court’s operational effectiveness and overall success rate.2 It was decided that, having implemented the recommendations, the DTC should continue its operations for a further two years.
 
Although the review found that only 14% of programme participants had graduated from the programme since its establishment, participation in the programme was seen to have had a positive effect on behaviour. Although many participants took several years to progress through the initial phases of the programme, the focused attention and support they received during this period had ‘a positive effect on their offending behaviour, as well as on their health and personal relationships’, even if they ultimately failed to complete the programme (p. 19). Writing on page 5 of the March issue of Courts Service News,3 Tom Ward, chief clerk of the Dublin Metropolitan District Court,reports on how the programme has been adapted to address this issue:
 
The principal achievement over the past year has been the agreement of a new strength’s based approach to determining the progress of participants… . Under the new system, participants continue to be tested as part of their treatment with progress measured over the period of participation. A greater weighting is ascribed to positive behaviours, such as not coming to unfavourable notice of the Gardaí. Participants receive credits for attending the in-house support group which is based on the ‘12 steps’ approach to managing addictions. Interim achievements are recognised and those who achieve a silver standard, but do not manage to attain gold, may be the subject of a report from the Drug Treatment Court Judge to their Sentencing Judge, proposing a suspended rather than a custodial sentence.
 
Progress is also reported on the establishment of a new Support and Advisory Committee to assist the Court. This comprises senior managers from the Health Service Executive, An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service, City of Dublin VEC, the Health Research Board and the Courts Service.
 
According to Mr Ward, ‘The Court hopes to be able to accept participants with addresses outside the Dublin North Inner City in the near future. In the meantime, it continues to encourage referrals from those with addresses in Dublin 1, 3 or 7.’
 
The review of the DTC recommended that the programme be extended to offenders aged 16–18 years who are before the Children Court. The current programme for government is also committed to carrying out ‘a full review of the Drug Treatment Court programme to evaluate its success and potential in dealing with young offenders identified as having serious problems with drugs’.4 An interim assessment of the DTC is due to take place in the autumn (Tom Ward, personal communication, June 2011). This will examine the progress made to date in implementing the recommendations of the review.
 
For more information about the DTC, phone 01-8886294 or e-mail drugtreatmentcourt@courts.ie.
 
1.      Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (2010) Review of the Drug Treatment Court. Dublin: Stationery Office. Available at www.justice.ie
2.      See Connolly J (2010) Drug Treatment Court to continue operating. Drugnet Ireland, (35): 23.
3.      Ward T (2011) New look Drug Treatment Court offers hope for the future. Courts Service News (13): 5. Dublin: Courts Service.
4.      Fine Gael and the Labour Party (2011) Government for National Recovery 2011–2016. www.taoiseach.gov.ie (p20)
Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 38, Summer 2011
Date:2011
Page Range:pp. 14-15
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 38, Summer 2011
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Court system > Drug court
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
T Demographic characteristics > Offender
MM-MO Crime and law > Criminal penalty

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