The new drug and alcohol courts

November 2nd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

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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32 Responses to “The new drug and alcohol courts”

  1. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Outstanding. People, even criminals, comprehend a need for justice in society. But if the system is seen to be compassionate and decidedly determined to be visionary (which is why the book Crime and Punishment was published) hope will be seen for and in society.

    The middle class wags will blame it on systemic socialism and cronyism but something has actually got to be seen to be done. This is a great innovation to the societal pit dug already

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  2. speters (107 comments) says:

    Sounds promising. The programme will need to be intense and uncompromising though – will be interesting to see the details. Hopefully won’t be gamed by those just looking for a reduced sentence.

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  3. Lance (2,311 comments) says:

    I know that a lot of these people are so fucked up on substance abuse they don’t give 2 shits what they do when under the influence.
    Being able to keep at least some off this cycle will be greatly beneficial to society. The pre-sentence time is a great time to get their attention as many are evaluating ‘ what the fuck am I doing?’ But as speters says, it will have to be no half arsed, easy road.

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  4. dime (8,778 comments) says:

    fingers crossed it works! im glad we are trying something

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  5. Kea (10,451 comments) says:

    I think this is worth a shot. As it is, a great many offenders are stood down for a drug & alcohol report. Booze and drugs are behind allot of offending, to an appalling degree. By far the worst is alcohol. Even with the druggies, its usually the booze that drove them to disorder/violence offences (crimes against people). Thing like dishonesty/theft (crimes against property) are usually done for money.

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  6. RRM (8,994 comments) says:

    Got to be worth a try…

    How does this tie in / overlap with three strikes? I hope filth who commit serious crimes of violence will still get to rot in jail, drugs or otherwise.

    David Garrett any ideas on this?

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  7. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    Yes, this is a good initiative…I was working with a Judge from California on his very initiative when my political career ended suddenly. I will be watching the results of our scheme with interest.

    RRM: I am not privy to the details of the NZ pilot scheme, but in California at least, violent offenders still go to jail, and have the drug treatment in there. There are time incentives for those who complete the programs, whereas the incentive for those non violent offenders who do the treatment outside jail is that when sentence time comes around, there may be no jail time (here there probably wouldnt be anyway) or less community service than would otherwise have been ordered.

    The biggest surprise to me from the overseas experience was that those who are compelled to enter the programs in jail actually have a pretty good success rate (success being measured by length of time remaining offence free). I always thought compulsory treatment could never work, but apparently that is not the case.

    Strike offenders are by definition serious violent offenders, so most of them – and stage two and three anyway – will be going to jail just the same. It may well affect some of the 2000 or so we presently have at stage one, i.e. on their first strike

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  8. Kea (10,451 comments) says:

    David Garrett, If anything good can come from jail, it is getting people off drugs and alcohol. Even if it is just to give them an enforced clean period, in the hope they will sort their thinking out without the haze of substance abuse.

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  9. thedavincimode (6,129 comments) says:

    Yet another soft option dreamed up by the marxist elite masquerading as the National Party. This is precisely what the left want. They want to overwhelm us and will use any tool including drug addicts creating anarchy on the streets. You are all too stupid to realise it and you cling to these marxist policies in false hope.

    One day there will be a day of reckoning and the progressive knuckledragging homo scum like nasska and his little bum boy davincimoron will be held to account.

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  10. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    Kea: Well, you are half right…the other good thing that prison does is keep recidivist offenders who have no desire or ability to change away from the rest of us…deterrence is uncertain, incapacitation is always effective.

    What the silly lefties don’t get – and probably never will – is that there are some criminals who will keep coming back regardless. Even prior to Churchill’s penal reforms in the 1930′s there were recidivists…just nowhere near as many as now. Yes, we should do all we can to turn young and first time offenders away from a criminal career, but at the end of the day a victim is just as dead or just as maimed whether the villain is psychotic, psychopathic, borderline retarded, or just a plain bad bastard.

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  11. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    @thedavincimode

    so tell me Mr Brilliant…. what’s an alternative?

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  12. alex Masterley (1,439 comments) says:

    TDM,

    I don’t think it will be a soft option. If the participation in the program came before plea i would agree with you. But to get in on the program a plea of guilty is entered and sentencing is deferred until the program is completed. Then there is regular reporting so there will be no place to hide

    If the court manages to get a number of people away from their addictions I am all for it.

    And if you think I am soft then David Garrett made some coments about a current trial in Auckland. I agree with what he said.

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  13. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    I think davinci might be taking the piss? I hope so…

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  14. thedavincimode (6,129 comments) says:

    Masterly, I hope you read briefs of evidence more carefully …

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  15. Kea (10,451 comments) says:

    Yes David. All we can do is throw a life line to those who want out of the scene. A certain percentage will change and some will not.

    It is a mistake to focus only on the youth. Many do not change until they are older. They often look back on their past actions with sincere regret. I have seen many turn-the-corner. We should encourage positive behaviour as much as possible, regardless of age.

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  16. RRM (8,994 comments) says:

    White-anting western values is just another tool of knuckle-dragging cultural marxists like Davincimode and the extreme left National Party as they continue in their jackbooted march towards the eventual downfall of christian civilisation…

    Don’t think we’re not onto your commie arse, DVM. You’re done. :evil:

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  17. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    Kea: Yeah, I think that is a fair comment. In all seriousness, I myself didn’t really “mature” until I was well into my thirties, or even later. And I still havent matured in a way that my father would approve of!

    What has been embarked on is a five year TRIAL….which means if it doesn’t have a positive effect it can be abandoned. If there are no clear results in five years they aint going to happen. As I say, I am not privy to the details, but I cannot see it being a “soft option”…Judith Collins is not known for soft options…And unlike her predecessor (putting on a lot of weight in the corporate world, isnt he?) she has a good understanding of crims and what incentivises them…

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  18. thedavincimode (6,129 comments) says:

    RRM

    Don’t think I’m not onto you either you homo knuckledragger. You call yourself “a bit of a lefty”. In reality you are nothing more than a cowardly commie mouthpiece for the far left who hides behind anonimity because you haven’t got the guts to defend your marxist beliefs in your own name.

    Why don’t you just fuck off and stop wasting the thedavincimode’s time. Just another hard core commie that the gutless apologist Key is trying to appease.

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  19. Kea (10,451 comments) says:

    What has been embarked on is a five year TRIAL….which means if it doesn’t have a positive effect it can be abandoned.

    Good. If it does not give real world results, it should be abandoned. The last thing we need is more tax payer funded ideologically driven nonsense. My approach is not left or right, it is simply pragmatic. I don’t think we are doing anything well enough that we should be too attached to our ideas and unwilling to change.

    Better minds than mine have considered these issues and no silver bullet has yet been found.

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  20. Griff (6,263 comments) says:

    DVM are you missing red that much?

    About time they actually introduced these programmes and measured the results.In the days of der Clarkenfuhrer lots of bullshit was tried with no concern for actual results. ie Cultural reintegration were the crims came out worst after the Maorifacation coursers.

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  21. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    Kea: There IS no silver bullet…crime is reducing now because of a combination of things: better policing in South Auckland and elsewhere; three strikes; longer sentences generally; a Parole Board more in touch with the real world…Drug Courts are just another sensible initiative..

    Davinci: You playful chap you…day off today? a little day time substance abuse?

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  22. Kea (10,451 comments) says:

    I was not suggesting there is a sliver bullet, rather I was implying that there is not one. Anyway… I reckon A&D Courts are worth a go and I hope it benefits society.

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  23. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    Kea: I was agreeing with you mate…the limitation of text/e-mail as a communication medium…

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  24. Nostalgia-NZ (4,697 comments) says:

    Anybody who thinks ending an ‘addiction’ is a soft option is also soft in the head.
    I look forward to the medium to long term results. While not quite the cliff clop it is certainly a lot closer to addressing key cores of offending. The benefits may be numerous long term, certainly cheaper that imprisonment and a good advance for the law to recognise addictions in a separate context to criminal offending.

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  25. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    Dont let’s get carried away Nostalgia…it is recognising addiction as a driver of offending…it’s still offending.

    And if this is not “cliff top” what do you suggest? Please do share with us your recipe for reducing crime to 1960′s levels…because for me, that should be the goal.

    Can’t be done? That’s what they said in New York City….

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  26. Nostalgia-NZ (4,697 comments) says:

    In this case if with help some individuals beat their addictions then a better chance of no more offending from them, which is the distinction I was making and which is certainly the point of the new Courts.

    It’s cliff top in that it may stop repeat offending. Longer term some other initiatives such as the pre-school requirement are certainly cliff top. This is a broad based initiative and ‘modern.’ There are a host of people that may have never have entered the criminal justice system if they were not addicts. The chemist robbers and burglars of the 70s and 80s eventually got weaned onto methadone treatment, this looks like a variation of that but further across the board.

    I’ll let you debate the statistics with your old pal Kim W if either of you are so inclined DG.

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  27. F E Smith (3,275 comments) says:

    It is a great idea.  I see that there is a difference between the news article and the info on the MoJ website.  The article says

    face a term of at least three years in prison

    while the MoJ website says a person qualifies if they

    • are facing up to three years in prison

    which is the opposite of what the article says.  If the article is true, then I question whether there will be many participants in the scheme, as the large majority of the drug users who would seem to be in the target group actually get sentences of greater than three years.  Those sorts of sentences are usually recieved by the more serious dealers, not users.  Most of those sorts of dealers don’t have drug habits, or at least not serious ones.

    I haven’t time to find which is correct, but I presume that the MoJ is.  If I have time later I will come back to it.

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  28. David Garrett (5,150 comments) says:

    I think you have missed a word or two there FE?

    Don’t you mean to say “…the target group DO NOT actually get sentences of greater than three years” ??

    Nostalgia: I dont usually debate with Workman…he makes stuff up or just flat out lies…

    (crime began falling in California 10 years prior to three strikes; our homicide rate is the same as it was in the 1960′s; our prison population would triple in three years if 3S passed…that sort of stuff)

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  29. F E Smith (3,275 comments) says:

    DG,

    cheers, you are absolutely correct. Typo on my part.

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  30. Left Right and Centre (2,396 comments) says:

    How the fuck are they paying for the alcohol and drugs if they’re on the benefit? If you’re getting wasted every fucking day… that’s not exactly cheap and the benefit aint exactly a fortune, innit?

    I’m a filthy fucking beno… went into town sat night and didn’t spend one fucking dollar of your hard earned money… hahaha

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  31. Sandy (47 comments) says:

    A total fail from a road safety perspective. To be eligible you need to be up for a 3 year sentence meaning you killed some one driving drunk or drugged. That benefits the offender but too late for society. It should be beefed up and made to fit the definition of of the management court model proposed by lawyer Greg King and used to reprogram impaired drivers before they are up for a post killing wee vacation.

    I am submitting to Government that the current Auckland trial of a drug court to run for 5 years before possible roll out should extend it’s brief far beyond just dealing with defendants who have pleaded guilty, and are facing imprisonment for up to three years, whereby their ‘success in treatment’ will be taken into account at sentencing.

    Lower level impaired driving offenders (excluding homicide cases) should be able in this court to access a management court approach and diversion per the model Barrister Greg King promotes. In it offenders are owned, sometimes on GPS

    An explanation of this problem solving management court method from Greg King who discovered it in the U.S;

    These Courts overseas co-ordinate a multi-agency collaborative approach to the problem and offer diversion unless there are new offenses.

    The term ‘criminality’ factors or problems, is used to describe the particular factors that may contribute to a person getting into trouble with the law; the obvious examples are mental health problems and alcoholism or other drug addiction. The Management Court however would not only focus on the criminality factors but also the wider social factors, such as employment, education, housing, family and culture. The Court has wide powers to provide an unprecedented level of judicial oversight and management of offenders in the community, including those who are re-entering society after being released from prison.

    Powers including;
    • PUBLIC SAFETY CONDITIONS: conditions that the court considers are appropriate and desirable in the particular case to enhance public safety and reduce re-offending (for example; curfew; to submit to drug and alcohol testing; prohibition from going to certain places; prohibition from contacting or associating with certain persons (be they victims or associates).
    • REHABILITATIVE CONDITIONS: conditions that the court considers are appropriate and desirable in the particular case to assist or facilitate rehabilitation (for example; not to consume drugs or alcohol; to attend counselling and treatment; to take medication; to report to agencies, etc).
    • PUNISHMENT CONDITIONS: (for sentencing purposes only) conditions that the court considers are appropriate and desirable in the particular case to meet the needs of punishment (such as community work or curfew; prohibition from driving; requirement to pay reparation, etc).

    Much needed benefits of a management court diversion approach are;

    • The drawing together of as many available support agencies (both state and private) as possible in a collaborative way in the development and implementation of a personalised programme that deals with the offender’s criminality factors and social needs in a collective and holistic way.
    • The gathering and pulling together of records relating to the offender as held by many separate agencies, including; mental health; police; probation; social welfare; schooling; family etc so that the offender’s needs can be fully assessed.
    • Regular court appearances to monitor, assess, and oversee progress and to modify the programme as and when appropriate. Rewarding compliance and sanctioning non-compliance in a proximate timeframe so as to keep the offender (as well as the others involved in the implementation of the programme) on track.
    • The court appearances being characterised by the Judge ensuring that everything and everyone is doing their bit, so that things stay on track.
    • A continuity of the team supporting the offender – The Judge; police prosecutor; defence lawyer; probation officer; treatment provider; case manager etc. A core team of people all working towards the rehabilitation of the offender.

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  32. F E Smith (3,275 comments) says:

    To be eligible you need to be up for a 3 year sentence meaning you killed some one driving drunk or drugged.

    Sandy, if you read my comment above, you will see that the Herald may have got that wrong.  The MoJ site says the sentence eligibility is up to three years, not three years or more.

    I still haven’t looked to confirm that is correct, but if you have other info could you please link to it?

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