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Retired U.S. judge shares best drug court practices to help Taiwan

2019/06/17 19:56:24

Christine Carpenter, a retired judge from the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri

Taipei, June 17 (CNA) Christine Carpenter, a retired judge from the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri, has outlined the practices of treatment courts to help Taiwan's judicial system gain a deeper understanding of alternative solutions to prevent drug abuse.

"A drug court judge is a very hard job, but it's also one of the best jobs because it really makes changes instead of sending people to prison," said Carpenter, who was a drug court commissioner and emphasized recovery and treatment programs throughout her career on the bench.

Speaking on the topic "Drug Courts in the United States -- the Missouri Model" at a one-day conference held in Taipei on June 12 at the invitation of the Taipei-based CTBC Anti-Drug Educational Foundation, Carpenter stressed that drug courts involved far more than just drugs.

They also are connected to issues related to education, employment, housing, child care, mental health and health care, Carpenter said, as they try to help people develop a "recovery lifestyle."

"We want people to have the kind of a life where they don't feel they need to use drugs in order to be happy," she said.

"We want to help people, but we also want problems to be solved," Carpenter said, and one of the ways that happened in Missouri was through the use of assessment tools to determine if individuals are "high risk and high needs" or "low risk and low needs."

Carpenter cited as an example of a low-risk, low-needs case a college student caught growing marijuana in their dorm room who is not a drug addict or does not have a mental health problem.

She said that type of person opts to take part in a recovery and treatment program is because they don't want to have a conviction record.

The drug court is designed more for people with high risk and high needs as they are the group of people who are more likely to fail, said Carpenter, who served on the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri for 18 years before retiring in 2017.

Taiwan currently does not have drug courts, but in light of the rising numbers of drug offenders as well as the younger age of drug abusers in the county, the Ministry of Justice is mulling the adoption of the drug court model.

It intends to use the concepts introduced at the conference as a reference as Taiwan enforces new anti-drug policies involving intervention with drug offenders, according to the ministry.

Carpenter was one of four experts speaking at the conference titled "the Best Practices of Drug Courts and Multiple Intervention Programs."

The event was jointly organized by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the U.S. National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) to discuss America's anti-drug policy and make recommendations for Taiwan.

The others were Terrence D. Walton, NADCP chief operating officer, Jo Ann Ferdinand, acting justice of the Kings County Supreme Court, and Julie Seitz, NADCP project director.

Carpenter was in Taiwan through her work with the NADCP, which has worked with successful drug courts across the continental United States, to promote the recovery and treatment program.

(By Hanna Liu)