PHILIPSBURG:— The criminal justice system on St. Maarten is simply not equipped to handle addicts and persons with mental disorder that have come into contact with law enforcement. So says the Law Enforcement Council in a recent report it compiled on the topic. The council concludes that the justice chain is not equipped to deal with, treat nor provide these persons with the required aftercare.
Indications about possible shortcomings in the area of forensic care for addicts and persons with mental disorder surfaced in an earlier study conducted in 2013, and which was reason enough for the council to respond with this most recent research.
The new study confirms that the current state of affairs with regards to equipping the criminal justice system for the reception, treatment and aftercare for this specific group of persons, is seriously lagging behind. Addicts and persons with a mental disorder who come into contact with the law either because of lack of adaptation, self-destructive behavior and / or delinquent behavior, often do not receive the necessary reception, treatment and aftercare. This group of persons continues to suffer from the absence of all of the above and represent a group with a high risk of repeating offenses.
It is certainly not in the interest of their reintegration into society nor that of public safety, when in practice these persons repeatedly come into contact with the criminal justice system. Furthermore (inter)national requirements on how to deal with these persons are not met with by the country of St. Maarten. The absence of required care also has an indirect effect on the entire justice system.
On one hand the justice chain is experiencing overburdening by this group and on the other hand the judicial chain is obliged to deal with problems for which it is not equipped, nor is being equipped to handle.
Seeing what is at stake, the council has the hope that the Minister of Justice will soon address the legal, administrative and policy framework, through which a basis is created for the structure, cooperation and organization of facilities for the criminal justice system to handle those addicts and persons with mental disorder who breach the law. To this end, the Council has made four recommendations.
Pursuant to the Kingdom Act on the Law Enforcement Council, the Minister of Justice will be given the opportunity to send the relevant advices of the council to Parliament within six weeks, along with his policy response.
The report will thereafter be available for downloading on the council’s official website, www.raadrechtshandhaving.com, after six weeks.
Source: St. Martin News Network
Council on Law Enforcement with recommendations on care of addicts and persons with mental disorder.