The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City distributed the following news release on Tuesday Nov. 8.
Representatives from the health, public safety, law enforcement, and judicial sectors in eleven states attended the launch of the fifth nationwide in Therapeutic Justice for Addicts of Psychoactive Substances, hosted by the Inter-American Commission for the Control and Abuse of Drugs of the Organization of American States together with SEGOB and National Council Against Addictions (CONADIC). Mexico’s new oral accusatory criminal justice system allows for the use of alternative justice mechanisms, such as drug treatment courts, as options to incarceration when the accused has a proven substance addiction. Through the Mérida Initiative, the United States has supported the establishment of 25 drug treatment courts in eleven states since 2008, including Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Colima, Durango, Estado de México, Jalisco, Morelos, Nuevo León, Puebla, and Sonora.
Therapeutic justice mechanisms deal with the health issues that lead to criminal activity, and which cannot usually be resolved in a penitentiary environment. U.S. Ambassador Jacobson reiterated this point at the workshop inauguration, stating “…drug treatment courts offer an opportunity to attack the root of the problem of crimes related to drug use.” The model has proven effective: recent studies in the United States conclude that drug treatment courts are up to 45% more effective than other alternative justice programs in reducing crimes and recidivism.
U.S. government assistance for drug treatment courts in Mexico focuses on supporting efforts by CONADIC and state governments to prepare the agencies whose participation is needed to successfully run a drug treatment court. In Mexico, drug treatment courts address specific local issues and challenges, helping participants to overcome addiction and return to playing a productive role in their communities. Through the Merida Initiative, the U.S. government facilitates training and information exchange through study tours and participation in international conferences, and provides essential equipment and tools to support the implementation of drug treatment courts.
The Mérida Initiative is a bilateral security cooperation agreement between Mexico and the United States. Through eight years of implementation, the Merida Initiative has led to greater cooperation between the United States and Mexico. It has provided tangible support to Mexico’s law enforcement and judicial institutions, helped to counteract the illegal trade in narcotics, and strengthened border security. To date, the Mérida Initiative has delivered USD $1.5 billion in equipment, training, and capacity building assistance to the government of Mexico.