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Out of work

Magistrates concerned about unemployed turning to drugs

COURT TODAY BLOCKIf there are no jobs for participants after they graduate from the inaugural Drug Treatment Programme, they could easily find themselves reverting to their old ways.

That was the consensus at a discussion held earlier this week at a post-review session, when the Drug Treatment Court (DTC) team met with officials from various diplomatic missions and international agencies.

The group visited a session of the DTC to gain an overview of the court and its challenges.

Identifying jobs as a priority, a call was again made for the private sector to assist in offering jobs to participants at the end of the programme.

According to counsellor from The Centre for Counselling Addiction and Support Services (CASA), Jerry Bellamy, “the struggle is harder for the unemployed”.

“Often the drugs are easily available in their communities and with them being there, the temptation is strong,” DTC Magistrate Pamela Beckles stressed.

Magistrate Graveney Bannister agreed saying, “social integration would go a long way towards keeping them on the right path”. If jobs or other mechanisms are not put in place for them, then “what benefits are there to prevent them from returning to their old ways?” he asked.

While attorney-at-law Lesley Cargill suggested a continuation of group meetings for participants, she also felt part of their socializing could include having them volunteer to mentor future participants, thereby “giving back” and creating a sense of responsibility to the programme at the same time.

Country Representative of the Organization of American States (OAS), Francis McBarnette, spoke of alumni groups which have been formed by participants in other regional territories like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

“After-care is important because the individual will have to be judged in the long term,” he commented.

Captain Don Chee-A-Tow, Head of Missions at the French Consulate, referred to a programme which has an 85 per cent success rate. In it, participants are trained by the military with the promise of employment for two years.

He explained that while the former addicts find employment, the employer at the same time gets a highly skilled employee

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