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CRM 2310 EXAM.txt

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University of Ottawa
Kate Fletcher

Melissa Joly (6756450) CRM 2310A Kate Fletcher 1. The use of recreational drugs within society has been documented back to the times of Ancient Egypt (Nunn, p. 137,2002). In Canada, recreational drugs (apart from prescription medication when taken as directed, alcohol and nicotine) are outlawed by the state, if an individual is sentenced with a drug related offence, the state punishes them as a sort of reactive intervention. The punishment for the individual is not limited to the sentence delivered in court, but rather extended through the mark on their criminal record. Society ostracizes those with a criminal background by making it near impossible to gain meaningful employment, decent housing, or travel internationally. These seemingly proportional impacts on the convicted life, are also the reason for many re offences in Canada. This essay will address the reasons for recidivism within the aspect of drug related offences; the hopeful introduction, but ultimate failure of Drug Treatment Courts in Toronto and Vancouver; the advantages of a shift from a punitive approach of dealing with drug offenders, to an approach concurrent with peace making criminology strategies; and most importantly how to address the drug abuse issue in Canada, while respecting individual choice and freedom. The Criminal Justice System is currently failing not only offenders, but also the community in which they are released(Whiteacre, Pepinsky, p. 23, 2003). The State currently addresses elicit drug use and trafficking with a heavy burden on the justice system, ignoring the surrounding factors for the offence. This direct punishment rarely discourages the individual to re offend as it not only fails to address the direct source of the issue, but also creates an us versus them mentality between the offender and society. During incarceration, inmates receive little more than standard substance abuse meetings, which, although helpful to some offenders, does not allow for the individual to build the every day skills needed to live a life clean of substance abuse in the outside world. In 2007, Stats Canada reported that 100 675 Canadians were charged with a drug related offences(Stats Canada, 2009). By changing the manner in which we address substance abuse in Canada, the costs on the criminal justice system are significantly reduced. With few drug recovery programs being offered in prisons, and seven out of ten prisoners having some sort drug or alcohol issue within the year prior of incarceration, prisoners have no meaningful support(Fischer, p. 230, 2003). Andrea Leverentz addresses the difficulties of female prisoners who have recently been released and trying to regain access to their children, in her article �People, Places, and Things: How Female Ex-Prisoners Negotiate Their Neighbourhood Context�. In order to regain custody, the women must prove to the court that they are emotionally stable, have adequate housing, and sufficient means of earning an income to support the child (Levenrentz, 2010). These concepts may be especially pressing for women but are universal needs for recently released offenders. One narrative which Leverentz repeats often in her article is the Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous mantra of �People, places and things.�, the notion for individuals in recovery to avoid triggers from their past lifestyle(Levenrentz,2010). This however is extremely difficult given the lack of resources available to recently released inmates. Many former prisoners don't have much option but to live in the same neighbourhood as when they were arrested do to limited income, housing restrictions, and the stigma of having a criminal offence on record. The individual often believes that their presence in their old neighbourhood is beneficial to their recovery. The newly recovered inmate sees themselves as becoming a role model in their old community, setting an example for recovery, however often times, by being surrounded by old triggers, the offender will succumb to substance abuse. The inmate may further rationalize moving into their old community by justifying that �drugs are everywhere�, and at the very minimum, if they live near friends and family, they will be able to build a support network to negate the drug world (Leverentz, 2003, 649). The Omnibus Crime Bill, or Bill C-10, was implemented by the Conservative Harper government in 2012, the bill raised mandatory minimum sentences on many drug related offences (�Victim Services at CSC�, 2012). This is largely political, �tough on crime� approach may far well in the polls, but is damaging to a successful transition of the offender from the control prison environment into society. Sparse access to substance abuse programing is not the only set back for inmates. With mandatory minimum sentencing granting less judicial discretion to the judge, offenders who would usually be diverted from incarceration will now face jail time. Reoccurring incarcerations and gaps in employment history erodes future employability, making it difficult to escape the poverty lifestyle. Prior to incarceration, many prisoners lived pay to pay check, meaning that when they are released, they have no financial backing to start their new life or continue their education. The communities in which offenders are released are often times poor, crime ridden areas, which do little to aid the offender from resisting the criminal lifestyle. In order to live a healthy lifestyle it is important to create social ties, or to build social capital. By doing so, not only does the individual have a constant support network, but the sense of community extends beyond the meaning of the geographic location. Community Based Organizations are a key part of building social capital in the community but with no government support, are often failures. This development Stephen Schneider's �Organizational Obstacles to Participation in Community Crime Prevention Programs.�, discuses the issues communities such as �Mount Pleasant� have obtaining and implementing meaningful crime prevention programing. Mount Pleasant a poor neighbourhood which has a crime rate second only to Vancouver's Downtown East side, is a typical neighbourhood which a released offender would live. With 48 percent of the population born outside of Canada, diversity in cultures and the role of community intervention make it difficult to form social capital or for the community to take collective action towards crime. The median yearly income according to a 1995 census was $14,372, being 42 percent less than the national average (Schneider, 2000, p. 37). It is commonly believed that � Community-based organizations (CBOs) foster collective action by identifying issues of concern, stimulating public interest, bringing individuals together, and generating resources for program implementation.�, however their implementation in the Mount Pleasant community has largely been a failure (Schneider, 2000, p. 32). Since the programs are �founded, organized, governed, and run by local residents�, the individuals running the programs, although well intentioned, are unable to overcome the cultural and social barriers of the improvised community(Schneider, 2000, p. 33). Despite the apparent failings of Community Based Organizations as a whole, there is hope for their premise. In his article �The Only Home He's Ever Had� Mat� discuses both the merits and trials of the Portland Hotel Society, a homeless shelter, with medical staff located in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The shelter was created to house individuals who are usually denied from traditional shelters or social support. The Portland Hotel Society aims for a non-judgemental environment, Liz Evans, the director of the shelter states that the building allows people to just be, an important aspect allowing the individual to develop a sense of belonging(Mat�,2008). The Society has participated in activities such as �North America's first supervised injection site; a community hospital ward, where deep tissue infections are treated with intravenous antibiotics; free dental clinic, and the Portland Clinic�, all of represent the viewpoint of substance abuse being a public health issue which is treated on an individual basis. This peacemaking criminological perspective is not a new innovation, the Netherlands have historically featured a harm reduction model towards substance abuse. The 1970's marked a shift in the way in which the Netherlands began to deal with substance abuse, instead of the focus being on punishing the offender for their actions, the government instead chose to focus it's attention to the health care of the inflicted, prevention and education, and directing it's legal focus towards organized crime(Dolin, 2001). By normalizing the behaviour of drug abuse,and making it an everyday reality of society the Netherlands have set a model in which instead of ostracizing the individual, incorporates them within society, creating more social ties which may eventually aid it their recovery. Instead of drugs being inherently bad, by accepting drugs as an unavoidable aspect of society, the Netherlands were able to create a classification system. The system recognizes that different types of drugs have profoundly different impacts on society. Do to the nature of the drug, a chronic marijuana user will have a lesser impact on society than a chronic heroin user. By isolating each market, it is thought that users of soft drugs will be less likely to come in contact with users of hard drugs, thereby lessening the gateway aspect of substance abuse (Dolin, 2001). There is no doubt, that if our justice system does not change, there will great cost to tax payers, a reality which �tough on crime� legislation, such as Bill-C10, doesn't alleviate. The need for a shift in the manner which Canadians react to substance abuse in society has not going completely unnoticed by legislatures. Drug Treatment Courts take a therapeutic jurisprudence approach to offenders with substance abuse issues. The courts focus on the offenders recovery instead of their offence, offenders are subjected to frequent drug tests and are encouraged to gain meaningful employment. Ultimately aiming for the recovery of the offender and taking some pressure off the already stressed Criminal Justice System. Drug Treatment Courts, however having a positive intention for the offender, and being a proverbial step in the right direction for the justice system, are inflicted with some controversy. Between the rigorous program requirements, such as frequent court visits and urine tests, and probational violations, Drug Treatment Courts only manage to maintain 40-60 percent of offenders over a period of 1 year (Fischer, 2003, p. 232). The high failure rate of the program suggests that it's overall effectiveness is limited to a select group of offenders. Offenders who drop out of the Drug Treatment Court program, do not receive followup care, not only does this allow for those who leave to program to easily revert back to abuse, but it also effects the statistics of the overall success of the courts. The very premise of Drug Treatment Courts are similar to the mental institutions of the 19th century. Since Drug Treatment Courts do not allow for the possibility of the offender relapsing, they are suggesting that addiction is not a disease but rather a moral weakness which can be overcome with discipline (Fischer, 2003, 236). If or when the offender reverts back to their old habits, they are once again criticized by society, only enforcing the Us vs. Them mentality. An issue which could be remedied by a basic restructuring of the program, allowing for the offender to be human in their recovery. Drug abuse itself is not clear. It is not black and white. History has proven to us that we can not simply outlaw drugs and they go away. In Benedikt Fischer's article �'Doing good with a vengeance': A critical assessment of the practices, effects and implications of drug treatment courts in North America� he quotes, Thus it appears. . .that in begrudgingly offering medical care, the law stands at the bedside of the addict as a fumbling nurse with healing balm in one hand, and a primitive tomahawk in the other, unable to decide whether to attack the disease or punish its owner for having acquired it.� (Fischer, 2003, p. 228). Society hasn't quite realized that the war on substance abuse can not be remedied strictly through punishment, but rather, it must be a mixture of the two. By recognizing that long mandatory minimum sentences, without adequate programing is ineffective, we have begun to consider the possibilities of a peacemaking, criminological approach. Regulations such as those in the Netherlands, which not only integrate the addict into society, but also understands the balance of personal freedom and controlling the harm done to society, rest as examples for our current justice system. Drug Treatment Courts, despite having several fundamental flaws, can be redeemed by provided adequate follow up care, and recognizing addiction as a medical disease and not just a moral undoing. Our society is not condemned to complete sobriety, but rather the management of those who are unable to maintain control of the effects the substance has on their lives. 2. The adoption of the medical model, followed with the use of both chemotherapy and psychoactive drugs, began a shift in the manner mental illness is address in the community(Etter Sr. et. al., p. 79, 2008). Through a combination of medication and or talk therapy, many mentally ill individuals are able to live a relatively normal life within society, making long term psychiatric institutions a thing of the past. However, the integration of the mentally ill into society is not without it's trials. With little training, police, the first to be dispatched to those with mental illness, are unable to deal with behavioural outburst or the illogical reasoning of mentally ill individuals. Without understanding why mentally ill individuals behave iratically, the instances in which the two parties clash are bound to be controversial and destructive to the mentally ill. A point strengthened by recent statistics indicating that 1 in every 14 inmates in United States jails suffer from mental illness (Etter Sr. et. al., p. 82, 2008). Once in the system, offenders become lost, rarely receiving adequate treatment. Altercations with other inmates, due to a ignorance of the condition and resources often ensues further charges, only prolonging incarceration. Despite the original goal of institutionalization being to incorporate mentally ill individuals into the community, without adequate treatment and ongoing care for the individual, they are seen as an unwanted nuisance within society. There is a possibility of completing the shift from the notion of the independent �psychiatric community� to a more inclusive �community psychiatry� approach, however it will require further training for first responders; adequate housing for the mentally ill, including transitional housing, and a change in the sentencing of the mentally ill. Lastly, we must also consider the possibility that so
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