CJ hails success of intervention programmes

| 21/01/2010

Cayman Islands news, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman courts, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie(CNS): Despite the problems resulting from the sheer volume of cases going through the Cayman Islands Summary Court, the chief justice has pointed to the introduction of diversionary and court supervised treatment programmes as one of the success stories for the criminal justice system in 2009. Anthony Smellie said that 140 people are currently involved in these specialist programmes, from the drug court to the new mental health programmes, which are successfully addressing the complex problems associated with certain offenders.

At the recent opening of the Grand Court, Anthony Smellie spelled out the difficulties the judiciary faced with the space problems and the ever increasing number of cases, but he pointed out that many of the more than one thousand cases to go before the magistrates last year were being dealt with through alternative means, an area which he said was particularly encouraging.

The chief justice told his legal colleagues that Summary Court has introduced certain aspects of the Mental Health Courts that operate in other jurisdictions.

“This is another initiative of the Department of Community Rehabilitation and again utilizes the model of court supervised treatment initiatives to ensure compliance with medications and other forms of treatments,” he explained.

There are currently ten people being supervised by the court who have mental health issues that are also receiving treatment at the Mental Health Unit. The new initiative is designed to support the offenders in the community and reduce their risk of offending as an alternative to incarceration.

“Many of them suffer from dual diagnosis of mental illness and drug dependency and in many cases their dependency, particularly on marijuana, makes them refractory to treatment.  They are an important subset of offenders who are not eligible for the Drug Court because of their mental health issues and for whom no treatment alternatives currently exists,” Smellie added.

Like the Drug Court, diversionary programmes such as this are designed to reduce the risk of recidivism and the Drug Court model of supervision by the Court has been adopted and is supported by case conferences.

Other diversionary programmes include the Domestic Violence Intervention programme, which is a 32-week programme, and the Anger Management programme, a 12-week module which is aimed at teaching skills for effective conflict resolution.

Smellie said that the chief magistrate is also supervising a Healthy Relationships programme, which is offered to both offenders and their complaining spouses if necessary.

“These and still further initiatives have been undertaken because the advent of the Drug Court has demonstrated the enhanced effectiveness of treatment programmes which are supervised by the Courts,” Chief Justice Smellie said.

“The Courts’ involvement as part of the treatment team encourages greater compliance and ensures longer term effectiveness of the community based orders, often as preferable options to incarceration, when such community based orders are deemed suitable and are finally put in place.”

In addition, there are many people also undergoing counselling and other forms of alcohol abuse treatment, as a requirement of the DUI offenders’ initiative. The chief justice noted that the intention is to eventually promote legislation to strengthen and formalize these types of initiatives once the courts and partner agencies are satisfied that they are sufficiently tried and proven as piloted programmes.

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  1. Right Said Fred says:

    Well done to the CJ and all his team with this programme.  Many people are really benefitting from this forward thinking idea.