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Provincial drug court coming to Lethbridge

July 27, 2020

Lethbridge City Council discussed the development of a new provincial drug court and how soon our city may see one. Drug Treatment Courts are specialized programs designed to reduce substance abuse and crime through community rehabilitation.

The Lethbridge Drug Treatment Court will be one of seven in the province.  The hope is to get it started as early as this fall. It's funded by Alberta Justice and Solicitor General and will cost the province around $20M per year for all seven drug courts.

Provincial Drug Court Development and Training Liaison/Director, Grace Froese, presented before City Council on Monday. In her presentation she gave various examples of the success rate of the treatment centre in Edmonton.

According to Froese prime candidates for the program would be individuals who are looking at substantial jail sentences for crimes they've committed as a result of their drug addiction.

"This is an intensive program," says Froese, "judicial supervision is ongoing. They're supervised by probation, they report to the judge on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

"We know that on average 70-73% of graduates have not had new criminal convictions. It's a concept that works and it's a concept that has a huge impact on the community, " she says.

Alberta is the first province to put into place specific standards for their drug court program. Up until now, only Calgary and Edmonton have operated drug courts, but soon that will expand to Lethbridge and other areas such as Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Grand Prairie.

The province has put out a Request for Proposal seeking Lethbridge agencies to work with and to take part in the treatment of the future clients. Once the agencies are chosen, Froese will spend the next three years working with them, training and educating them for success.

According to Froese, a successful agency should have training in criminal and addictive thinking.

Lethbridge