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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

First Therapeutic Justice Summit focuses on new training for Drug Court components

Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez spoke at the summit. (Gov. Pedro Pierluisi/Facebook)

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia participated on Tuesday in the first “Therapeutic Justice Summit: New Strate-gies to Address Emerging Drugs,” held in San Juan.

The event, coordinated by the Department of Justice, has the purpose of training officials from all components of the island’s Drug Courts on how to address the challenges that have arisen due to the development of new drugs and on best practices for supervision of those prosecuted for crimes linked to the use of controlled substances and alcohol.

“This initiative is consistent with our public policy of promoting rehabilitation and treating drug addiction in a healthy manner,” the governor said in a written statement. “Many of you know that since my time as Secretary of the Department of Justice I have been a fervent promoter of Drug Courts and other therapeutically focused programs. I recognize the effort of the Department of Justice to carry out this very important Summit, in which the entire component of our law and order system will receive specialized training that provides necessary tools to deal with cases related to people with addiction in a more efficient, effective way.”

Pierluisi added that “treating these cases as a matter of public health and not only from a criminal perspective, particularly for non-violent cases, is a process that is born from the evaluation and openness to consider novel strategies by judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, probation officers and other officials of our government.”

“Today is another example of how we continue to seek resources, identify new ideas and consider various strate-gies in search of innovative remedies in favor of therapeutic justice, rehabilitation and social reintegration,” he said.

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández stated that “with the holding of the summit, Puerto Rico becomes one of the first jurisdictions nationwide to receive this type of updated training to optimize results in Drug Courts and address the challenges generated by emerging controlled substances.”

“It is the first time that a summit on a substance use disorder of this magnitude has been held, which will simul-taneously impact all sectors called to prevent and remedy addiction, with the aim of reducing the incidence of crime on the island and promoting rehabilitation,” added the Justice chief, who later signed a new administrative order to adjust the regulations to the new guidelines adopted by all components of the Drug Courts and that enter into force starting this year.

The initiative made official by the order “is part of the measures that we have implemented in compliance with the public policy of the Government of Puerto Rico to serve, with a therapeutic justice approach, those who commit non-violent crimes due to substance and alcohol addictive disorder, ensuring that, when criminally prosecuted, they have at their disposal effective rehabilitation programs that allow them to reintegrate into society and avoid recidivism,” Emanuelli Hernández said. “We have to humanize the law and judicial processes, attending to the emotional and psychological aspect. By treating those who commit crimes due to addictive conditions differently, we will obtain more effective results for them, their families and society.”

The event was organized by the Coordination Division of the Justice Department’s Specialized Units for Domestic Violence, Sexual Crimes and Child Abuse, with the support of the Office of the Chief Prosecutor. Workshops will include training on the effective administration of Naloxone to reverse the effects of opioid overdose and on the neurophysiological effects of substance use and abuse. Participants who will receive training include prosecutors, investigating agents, judges, health professionals and personnel from various government agencies and the private sector.

“With this mass training, we hope to strengthen the spe-cialized knowledge that all components of the Drug Courts Program must have, especially our prosecutors,” said Jessika Correa González, the chief prosecutor. “At the Department of Justice, we are committed to making programs that address alcohol and controlled substance use disorders effective.”

Prosecutor Laura Hernández Gutiérrez, who directs the Coordination Division of the Justice Department’s Special-ized Drug Courts Units, emphasized that “the Summit is an activity that brings together the entire security, health and community component in an effort to promote public policy, new treatment and prevention approaches to serve the population in Puerto Rico that suffers from a disorder in the use of controlled substances and alcohol.

“This public health and safety problem that afflicts us all,” she said.

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