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Sanctions and Incentives in Drug Treatment Court IMPLEMENTING DRUG TREATMENT COURTS AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO INCARCERATION FOR DRUG DEPENDENT OFFENDERS DRUG TREATMENT COURT SKILLS WORKSHOP Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, February 21-23, 2013


Sanctions and Incentives 

Sanctions and Incentives are usually meted out by the Drug Court Judge. They may very well be two of the most valuable tools possessed by the Judge and it is felt by some that they are key to the successful treatment of addiction.  Sanctions vary and include the imposition of reporting conditions, curfew or even the withholding of promotion or even being kept in custody for a short period of time. Incentives include being applauded by all, the provision of food subsidies or a small token. The types of sanctions and incentives that can be imposed vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction


Incentives or Advantages ď ˝

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In Jamaica for instance there is provision in the legislation for the types of incentives that can be imposed; There is provision for the imposition by the RM on the recommendation of the treatment provider advantages such as specified privileges, a change in the frequency of counselling or other treatment, a decrease in the degree of supervision to which the offender is subject, a decrease in the frequency with which the drug offender is required to undergo drug tests, a change in the nature of the vocational and social services attended by the drug offender or the frequency with which he is required to attend those services. These incentives are imposed where the offender maintains a satisfactory level of compliance with the programme.


Sanctions ď ˝

Conversely if the offender fails to comply with the programme there is also provision for the imposition of sanctions such as withdrawal of privileges, an appropriate change in the frequency of counseling or other treatment, an increase in the degree of supervision to which the offender is subject, an increase in the frequency with which the drug offender is required to undergo drug tests and a change in the nature of the vocational and social services attended by the drug offender or the frequency with which he is required to attend those services.


Statement on Sanctions and Incentives in the

document “A Policy to establish DTCs in T&T ” DTC’s, through the swift application of incentives and sanctions, provide the criminal justice system with the unique ability to substantially reduces substance abuse and its associated crimes while increasing public safety, reducing recidivism, and supporting the fair administration of justice. “Close monitoring of attendance, substance use, and criminal activity, combined with the imposition of increasingly severe sanctions for successive infractions, are at least partly responsible for the success of drug courts, and similar probation programmes and indirect evidence appears to support the theory that the severity and certainty of criminal justice sanctions are related inversely to the likelihood of criminal recidivism”. Absent this swift application of incentives and sanctions, drug courts lose their coercive power and therefore, their effectiveness. 


Incentives Therefore where the court finds that the drug offender: a. is performing satisfactorily in drug court; b. is benefiting from education, treatment and rehabilitation; c. has not engaged in criminal conduct; or d. has not violated the terms and conditions of the agreement; It may grant reasonable incentives to the drug offender. ď ˝


Sanctions Where the court finds that the drug offender: a. is not performing satisfactorily in drug court; b. is not benefiting from education, treatment or rehabilitation; c. has engaged in conduct rendering him or her unsuitable for the programme; d. has otherwise violated the terms and conditions of the agreement; or e. is for any reason unable to participate; It may impose reasonable sanctions under the written agreement. The court also has the power to incarcerate or expel the drug offender.  


Types of sanctions Such sanctions may include but are not limited to: • Staying until the end of the DTC hearing; • Extension of time in the DTC programme; • Verbal and or written apologies to the Court and group; • Essays or book reports; • Enhanced curfews; • Changing conditions of bail; • More frequent drug testing; • Taking away driving privileges; • Increased community assistance projects; • Increased court appearances; • And increased supervision.


Types of sanctions Additionally, in more severe circumstances, an offender who violates any conditions imposed pursuant to the enabling legislation may also be liable to revocation of bail, or may face expulsion from the DTC programme where upon expulsion his matter may be transferred back to the substantive court where he may be sentenced in accordance with the punishment required for the offence. These severe instances will include but are not limited to: • Where the participant tampers with a urine sample; • Where the participant possesses, uses or traffics drugs or drug paraphernalia whilst attending a DTC programme at approved treatment centres and lies to the Court about it; • Where the participant abandons the programme; • Where the participant is involved in physical violence whilst attending any of the DTC programmes at approved treatment centres; or • Any other grounds the DTC may find sufficient. 


Types of Incentives 

Thus a DTC may grant reasonable incentives under the written agreement if it finds that a participant is performing satisfactorily; is benefiting from education, treatment, and rehabilitation; has not engaged in criminal conduct; and has not violated the terms and conditions of the agreement. Reasonable incentives may include but are not limited to: • praise from the judge; • applause from the court; • being permitted to leave the DTC hearings early; • graduation certificates; • early graduation from the programme; • fee reduction or waiver of fees; • reduced contact with a probation officer; • coupons or gift certificates for groceries; coffee; movies; etc; • less court appearances; or • lifting of curfew.


Ultimate incentive and sanction ď ˝

As it is with most DTCs the ultimate incentive is graduation and a discharge of the offence and the ultimate sanction is expulsion from the programme and sentencing of the offender.


Considerations in the imposition process ď ˝

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The decision to impose a sanction should be made within the pre-court meeting where a consensus should be arrived at; However sometimes a participant is given a chance to respond in open court to allegations made and the Judge may be required to make a unilateral decision at that stage. This should be the exception rather than the rule; The nature of the sanction or incentive should be fitting to the situation;


Considerations in the imposition process ď ˝

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The imposition of either a sanction or incentive should be transparent; the participant and also other participants should be aware of the purpose; Their imposition should also be swift so it should be imposed on the immediate court appearance following the infraction or commendable behaviour; Their imposition should be consistent from participant to participant;


Considerations in the imposition process ď ˝

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Whereas it may be easy to impose an incentive it may not be as easy to impose a sanction, bearing in mind the nurturing nature of the DTC where some judges may view participants in a caring way but one must still be firm and resolute in imposing the decided sanction. The imposition of incentives may require financial resources but it also behooves us to be creative in deciding on the nature of the incentive .


Conclusion 

The imposition of incentives and sanctions is one of the thirteen key principles for a successful DTC; They are essential in enhancing behavioural modification; Sanctions and Incentives are the backbone of any DTC programme and so should be utilized in a manner that will benefit the participant and guide him towards executing a successful DTC programme. Thank you


Sanctions and incentives in drug treatment court