The new drug and alcohol courts

The Herald reports:

A new court designed to tackle the underlying causes of crime will save lives and money, say judges.

Two new courts opened in Waitakere and central Auckland this morning will deal with about 100 people with alcohol and drug dependency issues in its first year of operation.

Costing $2 million, the courts will take on those who have pleaded guilty, face a term of at least three years in prison and show a willingness to change their ways.

They will be put through an intense programme designed to turn their lives around and, if they are successful, their efforts will be taken into account at sentencing.

The court has been years in the planning and draws on research from around the world.

Let’s hope it is effective. The flow on effects to families and communities will be large if they are.

The other advantage both judges point to is the potential money saved in police time, court cases, prison space and the social costs to victims and their families.

Judge Tremewan said there are 2600 similar courts in the US and the number has increased, despite Federal budget cuts.

She said many of those that come before the courts with alcohol and drugs problems are on benefits but she has met people who have come through the US model and are now proud to be taxpayers.

“It gives them the opportunity to learn work and life skills.”

From criminal to taxpayer – excellent.

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