The Guyana Government through the Ministry of Public Security is in the process of establishing a Drug Treatment Court which will seek to provide rehabilitative services to petty offenders, rather than have them incarcerated.
Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan made the announcement this morning at a workshop hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Center.
“We want to have non-custodial penalties for those who are found with small amounts [of marijuana]…if they get caught, you shouldn’t send them to jail,” Ramjattan told the gathering.
Ramjattan said his experience in the law system has taught him that jailing offenders does not help them, but rather pushes them to graduate into “bigger things”.
The first such court will be piloted at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court where lawyers and magistrates will determine if the offender is qualified to appear in the special courtroom.
Guyana’s laws currently provide for a mandatory three year jail sentence for any found in possession of small amounts of marijuana and other illicit drugs.
This has led to the incarceration of petty offenders, leading to an overcrowding of the country’s prisons.
According to Minister Ramjattan, it costs governments more to maintain prisoners than to offer rehabilitation services.