Government guidelines that allow drug offenders to undergo addiction treatment for deferred prosecution need to be reviewed, the Control Yuan said, citing a surge in the number of people undergoing treatment.
It asked the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health and Welfare to review the Executive Yuan’s New Generation Anti-Drug Strategy Action Guidelines.
According to the guidelines, the Ministry of Justice is to treat drug offenders as “patient prisoners,” and increase every year the percentage of Class 1 and Class 2 drug users who are allowed to undergo drug addiction treatment for deferred prosecution — from 11 percent in 2016 to 15 percent in 2017 and 20 percent this year — Control Yuan members Lin Ya-feng (林雅鋒), Liu Te-hsun (劉德勳) and Yang Fang-wan (楊芳婉) said.
Compared with sentencing, observed rehabilitation and compulsory rehabilitation, drug addiction treatment can allow the defendants to recover and receive treatment in the community, Lin said.
If a defendant fails to complete treatment, deferred prosecution would be revoked, she said.
However, the number of people treated for drug addiction has surged, leading to capacity shortages at medical institutions, she said.
Furthermore, the Protection of Children and Youth Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法) does not designate children whose parents are undergoing drug addiction treatment as people who should be visited by social workers, Lin said.
Government agencies should discuss having prosecutors send social workers to check up on such children, she added.
A mechanism for reporting child abuse and referring such cases to local social affairs authorities should also be set up to allow early intervention and provide a better social support system, Lin said.
Medical institutions should evaluate whether a defendant has a medical need for drug addiction treatment, she said.
Current assessment tools and inspection mechanisms are inadequate, she added.
There are also no assessment tools based on scientific evidence to determine whether a defendant should be subject to drug addiction treatment, observed rehabilitation or compulsory rehabilitation, Lin said.
When handling cases of drug use, juvenile courts should consult a medical institution or other relevant institution before reaching a decision on the best way to handle the case, to help children overcome their addiction and return to a drug-free life, she said.
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