Saturday, August 30, 2008

Let's Watch the New Community COurt Carefully...and Pray for It

Vancouver has a new community court, which is scheduled to open September 30th.

That's the good news.

All the rest is not bad, but it certainly raises some serious questions about this new hope in dealing with drug addiction, mental illness, homelessness and chronic criminality.

First, let us look at the "team," that will be on hand.

A Provincial Court judge, a coordinator, a Crown counsel, a defence lawyer, a Vancouver police officer, sheriffs, court clerks, probation officers, forensic liaison workers, a forensic psychiatrist, a nurse, health-justice liaison workers, employment assistance workers, a victim services worker, a B.C. Housing support worker and a native court worker.

From this phalanx of "experts," each accused will be given - hold onto your hats - "a case management team."

Oh, my god.

I've seen "case management teams" at work in hospitals, seniors homes and social work and I pity the poor rube who is being "helped" by such.

This is no doubt a boon for the "helping professions," but what it will mean for the slobs it is meant to serve remains to be seen.

Now, let us look at the so-called "outcomes." (I remember the first time I ever heard that absurd word. I had already helped hundreds of addicts, alcoholics and ex-cons move on to lives of sober citizenship. I literally didn't understand the word. But it sure sounded important.)

Dispositions can range from community service, to orders to seek substance abuse or mental health treatment, to jail.

Uh...substance abuse or mental health treatment WHERE?

If real facilities do NOT exist, what meaning do such sentences have?

We welcome this important new initiative.

But we do so with healthy scepticism and some practical questions about how to transfer the intent from paper to the sidewalk.

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