12:40pm Wednesday 15 July 2020

Courts helping to break the cycle of drug addiction

The Drug Court of NSW is a specialist court that takes referrals of offenders from the Local and District Courts where drug dependency has resulted in repeated criminal offending.

Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, Dr Mitch Byrne, from UOW’s Faculty of Social Sciences said the role of the Drug Court was to break the cycle of offending by taking a very different approach to traditional criminal justice strategies when dealing with an offender.

The Drug Court combines sentencing with a long term and rigorous rehabilitation program that is directly overseen by the court and which is aimed at addressing the underlying drug addiction.

In so doing, Dr Byrne said that the Drug Court provides long term and effective solutions to the cycle of drug use and crime.

He said that local and international evaluations of Drug Court interventions demonstrate that, compared to traditional custodial sentencing, Drug Courts significantly reduce drug related re-offending.

The Drug Court of NSW currently has courts sitting at Parramatta, Sydney and Toronto.

Speakers at the UOW forum will include the Shadow Attorney General, Paul Lynch; the Director of NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Dr Don Weatherburn; and a Keynote Address by Judge Joseph Thomas Flies-Away. Judge Flies-Away is an Associate Justice with the Hualapai Nation Court of Appeals and a private consultant in Indigenous community and nation building.

There will also be a panel discussions and questions from the floor.

The Illawarra Drug Court Steering Committee comprises the President of the Wollongong and Districts Law Society, David Potts; solicitor from Carter Ferguson, Renata Matyear; Senior Lecturer and Clinical and Forensic Psychologist from UOW’s Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr Mitch Byrne; and Professor Elena Marchetti from UOW’s Faculty of Law.

The forum, running from 9.30am to 4pm, will be held in the McKinnon Building (Bldg 67), Room 107, and is free to attend. See the following website for registration — http://lha.uow.edu.au/law/drugcourtforum

The event is sponsored by UOW’s Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts; the Faculty of Social Sciences; the School of Psychology; the Legal Intersections Research Centre; and the Wollongong and District Law Society.

For further information contact Dr Mitch Byrne on 0417 859 559.

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