The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

Second chance for drug users – Owen Bonnici

Monday, 15 April 2019, 14:11 Last update: about 9 days ago

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said that while in the past society looked at people who committed drug related offences as criminals, today through new laws, they are looked at as people who need help.

Bonnici was addressing a press conference about second chance court judgments in the field of drug dependency

A person found to be in possession of drugs in amounts which constitute simple possession, present themselves before a Commissioner for Justice rather than court, he said, adding that their police conduct sheet would be kept clean from crimes under such circumstances. So far, he said, 2,710 people appeared before a Commissioner for Justice, thus meaning that they are given a second chance.

The term criminal was replaced with recidivist and the appropriate treatment order would be applied, he explained.

2,710 people appeared in front of the Commissioner of Justice since the introduction of the law, and 878 of these were non-residents.

The majority of offences involved more than one substance (45.35%), followed by cannabis (34.61%), heroin (10.04%), and cocaine (10%).

Age demographic breakdowns showed that 45% of those referred were between the ages of 18 and 29, followed by 36% aged 30 to 39, and 19% older than 40.

Caritas was the primary service provider appointed for offenders where they took care of 41% of cases. Sedqa overlooked 34% of cases, Oasi overlooked 4%, and the rest of the 21% of cases were overlooked by other service providers.

It was also noted that the vast majority of cases, not less than 85%, involved males.

According to statistics provided during the press conference, it was shown that in the period between September 2015 to December 2016, a total amount of 57 cases of offenders were referred to the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board.

Of these, 27 were referred to the Board by the Courts of Justice and 30 were referred to the Board by the Commissioner of Justice.

In 2017, a total amount of 45 cases of offenders were referred to the Board by the Courts of Justice, and of these, 10 were referred to the Board and 25 were referred to the Board by the Commissioner of Justice.

Photo by Alenka Falzon.

 

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