Red Deer getting drug treatment court to help break cycle of crime and addiction

The Government of Alberta has selected Red Deer for a drug treatment court. It will help support addiction treatment and recovery and increased support for law enforcement will target drug traffickers and suppliers.

Red Deer will have one of five drug treatment courts outside of Edmonton and Calgary as part of the government’s four-year investment of up to $20 million toward expanding the program across the province. As part of a build-up of regional organized crime units around the province, ALERT is adding three positions to an existing team of 15 investigators based in Red Deer.

The government is also providing Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) with a $50-million budget increase for initiatives to disrupt and dismantle organized crime. A portion of this new funding will allow ALERT to expand regional organized crime units across the province, including the addition of three new investigators to the regional unit based in Red Deer.

“Our government will be opening a drug treatment court in Red Deer to reduce crime by offering treatment to those struggling with addiction to help get their lives back on track,” said Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

“We are also ensuring law enforcement in central Alberta have the resources they need to disrupt and dismantle the organized crime groups that traffic and supply the illegal drugs that fuel addiction and take a terrible toll on our communities.”

With the significant public safety and health issues Red Deer and region are facing, this will help to break the systemic cycle of addiction and crime as a much needed alternative legal mechanism, as well as alleviate backlog pressures currently facing our justice system locally. Additional capacity in the local justice system will also help support the interests of victims of crime.

“Today’s announcement by the Government of Alberta responds to a critical need in our community,” said Mayor Tara Veer in a statement today. “This provincial investment reflects that the safety and health of all members of our community is of primary importance.”

Drug treatment courts help break the cycle of crime motivated by addiction by giving people who commit non-violent offences access to judicially supervised treatment and recovery. Treatment is supplemented by frequent drug testing, incentives, sanctions and social services support.

New funding will be used to establish drug treatment courts in five locations outside of Calgary and Edmonton. The court in Red Deer, along with a new program in Lethbridge announced earlier this year, is expected to be operational by late 2021. Three additional sites have yet to be determined.

Drug treatment courts have been operating in Edmonton since 2005 and Calgary since 2007, and part of the $20 million in additional funding is also being used to double the capacity of the two existing courts to about 80 participants a year.

Red Deer Provincial Court photo/Red Deer Times staff