Justice and Public Safety
“In the past, police have been perceived as an arm of the state. As we evolve, we must understand that police are an extension of the community. In doing so, we shift to look at the root causes of crime, as opposed to focusing on a reactive enforcement response.”
The Dangers of Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid used in medicine to manage severe pain. When used under the guidance of a doctor, and with a prescription, patients facing severe medical problems can experience pain relief.
Since 2011, the province has seen an alarming increase in the number of fentanyl-associated deaths as the drug has become more widely available on the streets. In 2015, 272 Albertans died after using the narcotic, an increase of 126% from 2014. Street fentanyl, produced and sold illegally, often contains unknown amounts of the drug, which increases the risks of overdose and death.
Drug Treatment Courts
Alberta’s Drug Treatment Courts provide both addiction treatment and justice system processing. Modeled after a system created in the United States, Drug Treatment Courts encourage drug rehabilitation through community programs and strict court supervision. The Edmonton Drug Treatment Court Service and the Calgary Drug Treatment Court offer a community-based alternative to incarceration for non-violent, drug-addicted offenders in Alberta.
Alberta Justice must evolve to further emphasize social services, early intervention and prevention to create a safer, healthier future for our province. We envision a paradigm shift where cross-ministerial cooperation and communication increase, allowing departments with expertise in social services to provide efficient and effective public services to Albertans. Having this focus on prevention and collaboration will allow other aspects of Justice to focus on serious crime, and support the development of safe and secure communities.
Education, prevention and intervention are critical to saving lives and ensuring the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Alberta’s system is currently facing major challenges – caseloads for provincial court judges remain high, funding for rural policing is not always adequate, and many demographics are overrepresented in the judicial system. The province is also facing a drug crisis in the form of fentanyl, a narcotic sedative and analgesic that is becoming increasingly available in Albertan communities. Finally, online fraud, such as credit card theft, is on the rise. Currently, government is struggling to find the balance between early intervention and prevention efforts, and social rehabilitation and public protection.