Barbados in 2016 launched its first Drug Treatment Court as an alternative to incarceration for persons whose criminal activity was as a result of the need for acquisition of drugs.
What is a Drug Treatment Court you may ask?
A drug treatment court is an alternative to incarceration for drug-dependent offenders who would have been charged with a criminal offense that is linked to their substance dependency and are likely to re-offend.
During this type of Court, substance use is addressed in the court system. Before the establishment of the Drug Treatment Court, offenders who were charged with an offense linked to their use of a substance, were punished with prison time. The Drug Treatment of Barbados, like many other Drug Treatment Courts over the world, recognized that drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that affects behaviour and impulse control. Therefore, the Drug Treatment Court's primary goal is not punishment, but rather treatment for the disease.
The Court is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of justice officials and healthcare providers who oversee the progress of each participant from admission to the programme and throughout the programme.
Participants who complete this programme successfully may have the criminal offense they were charged for dismissed or expunged. Failure to complete the program, results in their case returning to the regular criminal justice system and being tried as it was before the Drug Treatment Court option.