Minister Lawrence Wants Alternative Punishment for People Who Commit Non-violent Crimes While on Drugs

Volda Lawrence

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – A senior government minister has called for alternatives to the punitive punishments for people who commit non-violent crimes and are found to be dependent on drugs.

Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence, told the launch of the Drug Information Network Report that figures on incarceration for drug users continue to mount without any hint of reversal and has seen needless spending of state funds.

Lawrence said efforts must be made to prevent, treat and rehabilitate non-violent drug abusers.

“Let us not incarcerate those whom we can rehabilitate; for the less heinous crimes. Let us work with the courts to provide alternatives to the punitive punishment and help those in need, via substance abuse treatment modalities rather than imprisonment,” she said.

The Public Health Minister said the money could instead be spent on developing prevention programs that will target the youth and at-risk population.

Data from the 2017 report shows that an estimated 55,139 kilograms of narcotics were seized by law enforcement officials. Over 117,000 kg of marijuana plants were destroyed. The police was also able to remove drugs valued at over GUY$20 million from the streets, convicting 300 persons for various drug crimes.

The figures also show that during that period, 423 people were charged with trafficking various drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and heroin with 110 being convicted including 15 women.

Head of the Guyana Drug Information Network, Tiffany Barry said the organisation has been fighting the prevalence of drug usage in the country. – CMC