Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson says a drug rehabilitation centre for females will give the court system alternatives for sentencing some offenders.
Sir Marston made his comments during a tour of the abandoned former Everton House half-way facility, which is now being converted into a drug treatment centre for females by the National Organisation of Women.
In a room, which will be used as living quarters on the top floor of the house, the top legal officer told a gathering that included NOW President, Marilyn Rice-Bowen; Psychiatric Hospital head, Tennyson Springer; US Embassy representative Amy Sandolini, and Barbados Nurses Association representative Blondelle Mullin, that such facilities were needed in the system.
“We are discovering that mainly a lot of property offences, theft and burglaries and that type of thing, are driven by drugs. So we have decided that we would prefer to see that person, as a person suffering from an illness, rather than a person who has this inherent desire to offend. So we need to know the existence of these facilities, especially at appeal level when they are appealing against sentence we would be able to say, ‘Okay, what we are going to do is to build into our order the fact that as some remedial measure that you go to a facility and get help’,” he stated.
There was already precedent set with some cases appearing where the individual was sent to “go get help”, the CJ told the officials on the tour, adding however: “But you can never have too many of these facilities.”
Springer, who was involved in the former Everton House and is now a consultant to the NOW initiative, said that there were informal arrangements in place where a mental health officer assisted in the courts to do evaluations of first-time offenders.
He added that such arrangements were in place informally and should serve well with the establishment of the planned drug court.
The CJ commented that the interaction with the drug court and such rehabilitation facilities was one of the reasons he had hoped Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, who had earlier sent his apologies about not making the tour, would have been there.
“He [the AG] has taken the lead on the drug treatment court. Because it is a court it will fall under my jurisdiction as part of the judiciary, but in terms of its funding and setting up, the AG is taking the lead on it and you are going to need these types of facilities for that institution to run,” he said, adding that he had seen evidence of this kind of interaction in force in Canada.
He said it would also hold implications for some of the tests that would be necessary, like urine tests etc. ruling out the ability of offenders to lie about any relapses. (LB)