The Winnipeg Drug Treatment Court (WDTC) program is available to offenders charged under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act (CDSA) with drug-related offences such as possession, possession for purposes of trafficking, and trafficking, and/or non-violent Criminal Code offences. To be eligible, the offender must be dependent on drugs and their criminal behaviour must have been caused or motivated by their addiction.
The short term goals of the WDTC are:
to reduce recidivism through judicially-supervised drug treatment programs;
to break the cycle of drug use, crime and incarceration; and
to provide information on community supports and improve a participant’s life through employment, vocational and interpersonal support.
The long term goals are:
to reduce the number of crimes associated with addiction;
to reduce harm due to drug use and addiction; and
to provide the participant with the tools for vocation and educational success, positive mental and physical health, appropriate housing, and improved family relationships.
Participants must meet the program’s criteria for referral, which are:
assessed as having either a harmful level or dependent level of drug involvement during the criminal offence in question
able to attend all required aspects of the program.
willing to comply with program conditions and attendance requirements
have a self stated goal congruent with program philosophy, e.g. I want to stay out of trouble; I want to stay off drugs; I want to be able to make some changes.
The WDTC model involves progression through program phases including orientation, stabilization, intensive treatment, maintenance, and graduation. A client-centred approach ensures that following admission each client’s phase placement and progression will be based on individual factors; clients may move through the program in different ways but will have the same final outcome. The court uses a harm reduction approach that recognizes that clients may relapse at various times in their struggle against addiction, but at the same time promotes individual accountability through weekly court visits and drug screening.
The participant is provided with legal advice and is required to enter a guilty plea and agree to a delay in sentencing in order to enter the WDTC. A first court appearance is then made at which time release is granted upon specific Drug Treatment Court conditions. The participant will then begin a period of regular court appearances, random drug testing, and drug treatment within a comprehensive case management plan that will also provide access to a range of other support services that improve the chance of long term rehabilitation. The WDTC sits once per week and is preceded by a meeting of the judge with the drug treatment team and counsel. Through the use of rewards and sanctions, the judge assists in the participant’s compliance with the case management plan. Upon successful completion of the program, the participant will graduate from the WDTC and receive a community-based sentence.