Nunavut Considering Wellness Courts to Assist Mentally Ill and Addicted Offenders

The Nunavut Justice Department is looking into instituting wellness courts in order to assist mentally ill criminal offenders. Wellness courts have been instituted to assist offenders with mental illness and addition disorders. Offenders who suffer from these conditions can be sent to these specialized courts and are subject to intensive monitoring as opposed to incarceration, including regular drug and alcohol testing, lifestyle monitoring, finding a job and place to live, possibly returning to school and therapy. If the terms set out by the wellness court the judge will be able to tale that account during sentencing, which usually becomes probation or community-based sentences.

The Yukon has a wellness court which is very successful and can provide a useful model for Nunavut if the go ahead is given to put a wellness court into play. Advocates for the institution of this court say that this would be useful for the Nunavut community as half of the cases that presently come before courts are committed by offenders with addition and mental health issues. Wellness courts seek to solve the underlying issues that prompt criminal behaviour, and results in Yukon have shown that they are affective.

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