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Time for treatment courts is now

August 13, 2012

Time for treatment courts is now

The Government should act now to roll out alcohol and drug treatment courts nationwide rather than wait for a five year trial that hasn’t even started yet, said Green Party courts spokesperson David Clendon.

“The courts would have a far bigger impact on recidivist drink drivers than tinkering around with interlock devices on cars.”

Today it was reported that that from September repeat drink-drivers will be able to pay about $150 a month to have interlock devices, that stop a car starting if they sense alcohol, installed and in return be disqualified for a shorter period.

“Devices may stop someone temporarily using a car but they don’t address the underlying addiction problem,” said Mr Clendon.

“If the Government wants to actually make a difference it should start the new courts sooner so people can be sent to treatment and live productive lives instead of getting back behind the wheel to hurt and kill others.”

Research also shows alcohol is a factor in the majority of crime.

“A five year pilot dealing with 100 people a year is too little too late. Let’s use the first six month of the two Auckland courts as a trial while working to set the courts up in all centres. “

The courts were recommended by the Law Commission. They would deal with offenders with severe addiction problems and ensure they got treatment. Offenders would have to attend treatment, be randomly tested and regularly attend court.

International research has found the courts can reduce recidivism by between 8 and 26 per cent. The courts operate in many countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, England and Wales.

“There’s no need to wait another five years. We can learn from other comparable jurisdictions – these courts work,” said Mr Clendon.


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