first_img– Govt explores alternative sentencingA study conducted on a group of prisoners locally has revealed drug-related offences were found to be the second leading cause for incarcerations.This was revealed at a high-level meeting between local stakeholders and a team of international experts on exploring alternatives to incarceration, including the establishment of drug treatment courts in Guyana.During the opening ceremony on Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel, Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), Michael Atherly, explained that the study conducted by the Centre of Latin American Studies of Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in collaboration with the Guyana Government, assessesA section of the participants at the meeting between local stakeholders and a team of international experts at the Marriott on Wednesdaythe role drug use plays in the execution of crimes leading to imprisonment, among other things.Atherly noted that the study produced data from 900 inmates, who responded to more than 250 questions.“The findings revealed that drug-related offences were the second leading cause for incarceration, with 21.3 per cent of inmates overall being imprisoned for drug possession or dealing. The findings… awakened us to the realisation that the mechanism of incarceration for dealing with our youth, poor and underprivileged drug-hooked offenders was providing little or no opportunity for breaking the revolving cycle of drugs, crime and incarceration,” he noted.According to the CANU boss, this study clearly highlights the need to act now in implementing alternative sentencing.On this note, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan pointed to the need to shut this revolving door by not only finding alternatives to incarceration but also rehabilitation for drug offenders, whom he said, are clogging the streets, courts and prisons.“I can immediately see drug users coming out of the habit, through what I now understand the court will order as their treatment, detoxification and stabilisation periods of treatment and so on. I could also see that, with treated people, recidivism rates will also fall and not only with drug offences but other offence because drug-users support their bad habits by often stealing [and committing other crimes]… So indeed, this court can have that consequential positive effect that crimes, other than drug-related ones, will be reduced,” Minister Ramjattan asserted.He went on to note, however, that Guyana needed support to establish a drug treatment court, which was one of the alternative programmes identified in the National Drug Strategy Master Plan 2016-2020 under the policy to reduce incarceration.To this end, he expressed his gratitude to the international partners who are here to share their expertise and experience, and to walk local stakeholders through the challenges as they prepare to set up a drug treatment court here.Wednesday’s high-level meeting was a collaboration between the Public Security Ministry and the Organisation of American States’ (OAS) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD).OAS Country Representative, Jean Ricot Dormeus, lauded Guyana for taking a step in this direction.last_img

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