QLS applauds laws to bring back state’s drug courts
25 October 2017
Laws paving the way for the re-opening of drugs courts would go a long way to targeting the problem of addiction and the reduction of spiralling crime, according to Queensland’s peak solicitor group.
Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth said the Society and its almost 12,000 solicitors had lobbied strongly for the just-passed legislation to re-open drug courts – which were scrapped by the Newman LNP government in 2012.
“This is a very welcome move and something QLS has advocated strongly for since the courts were scrapped almost five years ago,’’ Ms Smyth said.
"In fact, we called for the reintroduction of diversionary courts as part of our 2015 State Call to Parties document, and since then, our committees have made submissions and appeared at the public hearing to encourage this legislation."
Ms Smyth said it was well known many people who appeared before the criminal courts suffered varying substance addictions, including alcohol, and the return of the drug courts would provide diversionary programs to help rehabilitate offenders.
“Drug courts proved to be a very constructive and positive diversionary strategy to deal with drug-dependant criminals when they were made permanent in 2005 following a successful trial after laws were introduced five years earlier," Ms Smyth said.
"Addictive behaviour across all forms needs to be treated if the court is to achieve its purpose, which is not merely punishment but to deal with the issues causing criminality.
“QLS was publicly critical when drug courts were shut down in 2012 and we welcome their reintroduction.
"We think it is extremely important Queensland has a drug court that actually deals with more people and is rehabilitation-heavy, rather than using the court as a weekly monitoring service as it had been in the past.”
Drug courts were first introduced in Queensland in order to divert those who committed drug-related offences away from the criminal justice system and break the cycle of crime, by placing them on tailored rehabilitation programs and monitoring their progress.
QLS’s support for the reintroduction of drug courts received bi-partisan support from both the Labor and LNP members of Queensland Parliament.
LNP MP Jann Stuckey told parliament: “I place on the parliamentary record my appreciation of the witnesses from the Queensland Law Society and the Townsville Community Legal Service who attended the 6 September hearing."
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath told parilament: "I am particularly pleased to note the comments from the Queensland Law Society that ‘this evidence based and cogent consultation process led to the formulation of well thought out and responsive draft legislation’..’’
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