One of five new drug treatment courts planned by the Alberta government will be located in Medicine Hat, Alberta officials announced Tuesday.
A drug treatment court offers an alternative to prison for nonviolent offenders with the aim of rehabilitation versus reincarceration.
The province says it's designed to be a comprehensive program under judicial supervision that includes treatments supplemented by frequent drug testing, incentives, sanctions and social services support.
There have been drug treatments courts in Edmonton and Calgary since 2005 and 2007, respectively. Under the UCP government's plan, they will have their combined capacity doubled to about 80 participants per year.
The government also promised months ago to fund new drug treatment courts in other communities at a cost of up to $20 million over four years.
In March, it said the first such court would be established in Lethbridge, and in June a second court was announced for Red Deer.
"This is part of our provincewide strategy — that the way to combat crime is to cut off drugs at their source and support addicts to prevent them from reoffending," Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said in a news release Tuesday as he announced the third site, in Medicine Hat.
Cameron McNulty, who successfully completed the drug court program in Calgary in 2018, says it helped him turn his life around.
"Drug court gave me more than just sobriety, it gave me a life worth living," he said in the release. "My first years as an adult were lived within a vicious cycle of overdoses, near-death experiences, prison sentences, as well as lost and damaged relationships with family and friends."
He says he knows he can call the Calgary Drug Treatment Court for support at any time, and he does.
"I've been able to mend relationships, start a beautiful family and learn what it is to live a happy and comfortable life."
The government is also bolstering the budget of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) with a $50-million increase for initiatives to disrupt and dismantle organized crime.
The province says it also plans to establish drug treatment courts in two other communities by 2021.