7 March 2005

Effectiveness of Drug Treatment Courts to Be Highlighted at CND

VIENNA, 7 March (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) which opened today at the United Nations (Vienna) will highlight the effectiveness of drug treatment courts (DTCs), at an event on 8 March at 13:45 hours. The event is part of CND’s 48th biennial session in Vienna, which is being held from 7 to 11 March 2005. Drug treatment courts are supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as an effective form of treatment for drug abuse. In his opening remarks to the Session, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, UNODC, told Member States, “Across the world, there is a growing realization that addiction is an illness, not a crime; that addicts need therapy and rehabilitation, not jail.”

Paulette Walker, a former Miss Montego Bay (Jamaica), and a graduate of a drug treatment court, will join a distinguished international panel of judges and treatment professionals on Tuesday 8 March, to showcase the work and results of these courts.  Ms. Walker will relate the story of her own addiction, talk about what triggered her drug habit, what led to convictions for theft and drug trafficking, and ways drug treatment courts offered her opportunities for recovery and successful reintegration into her community.      

Drug treatment courts effectively divert carefully screened offenders from the traditional prosecution process, and have demonstrated their effectiveness at stopping both repeat criminal behaviour and ongoing drug abuse. The use of drug treatment courts is growing in Europe, North and South America, and Australasia.

The results have been remarkably successful in countries where governments have experimented with drug treatment courts. Evaluations consistently indicate that less than 20 per cent of graduates of drug treatment programmes are repeat offenders. Evaluations from countries operating drug treatment courts provide evidence that these programmes work, are not soft on crime, and are a more cost-effective method of dealing with drug problems than either probation or prison. 

 Graduates of drug treatment courts accept personal responsibility for their drug abuse, show marked improvement in physical and mental health, and often achieve total drug abstinence.

“Drug treatment courts can be used more effectively than traditional courts for this group of drug abusers,” says  Mr. Costa, “because they break the vicious cycle of drug abuse. The programmes require the criminal justice system and healthcare systems to work closely together. The results are impressive. Addicts enslaved by heroin, cocaine, and other dangerous drugs often emerge from these programmes clean and sober, proving that we can change the world, one life at a time.”


For more information, contact:

Kathleen Millar
Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC
Tel: + 43 1 26060 5229
email: press@unodc.org