Press Release – New Zealand Government
Justice Minister Judith Collins today officially launched New Zealand’s first Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court in Auckland.
Ms Collins says the five-year pilot Court will sit for one day a week in both the Auckland and Waitakere District Courts and aims to help 100 offenders each year deal with the underlying addiction issues that have fuelled their offending.
“Dealing with an offender’s addiction prior to sentencing is a new approach for New Zealand. We want to reduce reoffending by giving offenders the opportunity to confront their drug and alcohol dependency, while still holding them to account for their actions,” Ms Collins says.
Selected defendants who have pleaded guilty, and are facing imprisonment for up to three years, have the opportunity to participate in an addiction treatment programme. Participation and the success of the treatment will be taken into account at sentencing.
“This is no easy way out for offenders – it requires a serious commitment to change. Those accepted into a treatment programme will undergo intensive treatment for around 12 to 18 months and will be drug tested twice a week.
“We know the harmful effects of alcohol and drug dependency can be devastating for many communities. Alcohol and other drugs are one of the major factors driving crime with around 51 per cent of offences committed ‘under the influence’.
“By looking at offending holistically, and taking into account the circumstances that have motivated the offending, we can help prevent these offenders from going on to commit further crimes. This will help keep people and communities safer,” Ms Collins says.
When the pilot has been running for a significant length of time, the Court will be evaluated for success in treatment outcomes, reduction in reoffending, and cost effectiveness.
“Crime is already at a 30-year low. To achieve our ambitious Better Public Services targets to reduce crime by 15 per cent and the re-offending rate by 25 per cent by 2017, we need to explore innovative new ways of delivering justice. The AODT Court is a perfect example of this in action.
“Where substance abuse results in crime it is important we take action, not just to punish the offenders but also to give them the tools they need to stop,” Ms Collins says.
For more information about the AODT Court pilot, go to the Ministry of Justice website.