New Brunswick is focusing its efforts by creating specialized courts for particular offences that take into consideration the background of the offender(s). This is a good thing. In Moncton, New Brunswick we have a Court dedicated to domestic violence offences. The Court has a dedicated Judge, Prosecutor, Social Worker and is resourced to ensure that the facts of each case are given particular consideration before imposing a traditional custodial sentence. Often, offenders that are found guilty, are given strict sentencing provisions which may include mandatory anger management treatment and no contact order provisions which prevent the offender from re- offending. The uniqueness of this Court from others is that the Judge ensures accountability and strict adherence to its Order(s) by instructing the offender to reappear for an update on the counselling he/she receives. The purpose of this is to ensure compliance with the sentence imposed on the individual.
In Saint John our Province has a Mental Health Court. This Court deals with the sensitive issues surrounding criminal offences and mental illness. It's an extremely successful Court and the Judges hearing these cases have their hands full. In some cases, people who suffer from mental illness commit crimes they may or may not be culpable for. This Court allows for the accused to demonstrate to the Judge that their actions may have been attributed to their illness. In the event that they are the Court may take into consideration the illness of the accused an impose the sentence it sees fit.
My Department is looking at the need for a Provincial Drug Treatment Court. It was a platform commitment that we intend on fulfilling. I believe it's needed here in this Province as it has been proven successful in other Provinces in eliminating over populating prisons for minor drug related offences. Take for example an individual who is addicted to Oxycontin that breaks into a department store and sells the "hot" television to purchase drugs. Should this person be sent to prison where little treatment for their drug addiction exists? What if they have the opportunity to complete mandatory rehabilitation treatment and if successful avoids receiving a criminal conviction and record? Now don't get me wrong here. If you're a drug dealer and your caught distributing illegal narcotics then it's unlikely you're going to a Drug Treatment Court. These "specialized" courts are designed to promote rehabilitation to first time offenders if they can demonstrate successful completion of the imposed counselling and mandatory treatment.
We can use more of these Courts that specialize in people that offer specialized staff, resources and treatment.