Thursday, June 3, 1999
Province has failed addicted youth
Judge Thomas Gove hit out in court yesterday at B.C.'s lack of secure drug treatment for youth.
Saying he has no options, the Burnaby provincial court judge released a 17-year-old heroin addict to the care of his parents, who can't keep him off the streets or off drugs.
The Crown had asked for a 14-to-21-day jail sentence for two shoplifting offences committed to get money for drugs.
Prison is just a "dumping ground," said Gove, who headed a 1995 provincial inquiry into child protection that called for dramatic changes in delivery of services to children and youth.
"This process of locking up without treatment has been tried and tried and I have never seen it work," said Gove.
Every plan to address the youth's addiction already has been tried and has failed because of the province's lack of treatment facilities from which they can't walk away, he said.
He read from the report of the Secure Care Working Group, a government task force that recommended that the ministry for children and families create a safe-care option where children and youth can be held up to 72 hours to be assessed and directed into appropriate treatment.
"The report addresses the concerns I have been seeing on a daily basis. These recommendations were delivered to the government nine months ago and there is still not available in B.C. a secure environment for treatment."
The boy's parents say they have been to court more than 50 times in three years to get their son into a lockup facility for treatment.
Gove said B.C.'s detox beds are simply foster beds without treatment, and addicted young people are free to use drugs in them and can "simply walk away." The boy's probation officer fears that, if the boy is not detained, he will overdose and perhaps kill himself.
Children and Families Minister Lois Boone has announced that the government will spend $9.25 million to nearly triple the number of beds for youth.
Created: April 16, 2001
Last modified: June 11, 2001
Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710