Consulate News and Events
Fighting drug addiction in courts: it is possible!
São Paulo | May 21, 2012
"There are two main goals of drug courts: one is to help the person overcome their addiction through treatment and supervision, and the second is to stop the cycle in which these people come back to the Judiciary for account of new crimes. And these two go hand in hand."That was the message Tara Kunkel, Management Consultant at the National Center for State Courts in Virginia delivered to government and police officials, prosecutors, psychologists, psychiatrists and others attending the two-day seminar “Therapeutic Justice: It is Possible!, held in Sao Paulo, May 17-18.
Reflecting the importance of this issue as Sao Paulo State and City work to clean up the city, Secretary of Justice Eloisa Alvarez de Souza opened the event at the State Prosecutor's Office, by citing that drugs have become a principal problem for the state. In meeting with mayors, she reported, drugs always appear as the first concern, "mainly because we do not know how to deal with this problem."
These concerns were echoed by Dr. Ronaldo Laranjeira, a psychiatrist at Unifesp, who pointed to the growing number of addicts throughout the country because of "a phenomenal network for narcotics distribution and cheap prices. With the rise of the Brazilian economy and consumption, he said, “drugs follow the money.”
Tara Kunkel, who has worked in several specialized courts for drug users in the United States, explained that the country’s model separates the non-violent user from the criminal system, and offers treatment instead of incarceration. Today American defendants can be referred to one of the 2,459 courts of this type through which a judge and expert staff will manage a process that will help eliminate their addiction.
Organized by the Public Ministry in collaboration with the U.S. consulate in São Paulo, these series of meetings are intended to discuss ways to improve the performance of government in relation to drugs.