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Dominican Republic launches drug treatment program under judicial supervision with OAS support
Published on June 15, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The Dominican Republic on Friday inaugurated in Santo Domingo a pilot project called Treatment under Judicial Supervision (TSJ) with support from the Organization of American States (OAS), as an alternative to incarceration for drug dependent offenders.

The project is part of the drug treatment courts program on which the OAS advises, through its Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and receives funding from the government of Canada.

Present at the inauguration of the program were the president of the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic, Mariano Germán; attorney general Francisco Hernández Brito; the president of the National Drug Council Fidias Aristy; and the acting assistant executive secretary of CICAD, Angela Crowdy.

With the launch of this project, Crowdy said, “The Dominican Republic will become a hemispheric benchmark, as many participating countries will be watching the process. It is not an easy road, but I am confident that under the leadership of the institutions represented here, this initiative will be a success."

The inauguration of the project is part of a process in the Dominican Republic that has been supported by the CICAD through a memorandum of understanding signed between the OAS and the Dominican Republic in December 2012. The ceremony was followed by a technical training session for the team of professionals that will be supporting judges and prosecutors in the handling of TSJ cases.

The TSJ project is an innovative approach to dealing with non-violent criminal offenses committed by drug-dependent offenders, conditionally directing the accused to treatment instead of jail time with the goal of managing relapses into drug addiction, reducing the risk of repeat offenses, lowering the prison population, and decreasing government expenditure on incarceration.

The Dominican Republic joins the list of countries to test the TSJ pilot projects under the OAS Drug Treatment Courts in the Americas program. Trinidad and Tobago launched a pilot program in September 2012, while Costa Rica launched two pilot programs in February 2013. Peru, Argentina and Barbados are also exploring this model. The program has proven effective in other countries in the region, such as Canada, the United States, Chile and Jamaica.
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