Female drug mules could get lesser jail time

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By Leroy Smith

A proposal to have female drug traffickers serve shorter jail terms is one of the many goals and objectives which the Guyana National Drug Strategy Master Plan 2016-2020 addresses.

In addition to putting forward the proposal for reduced sentences for female drug mules, the Drug Master Plan also seeks to have the government implement a system that could see persons who are presently serving time for possession of small amounts of drugs to be released from prison.

The stigma and discrimination attached to the use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs sometimes leave users outside of the reach of the health system. This is according to the Guyana National Drug Strategy Master Plan 2016-2020 which was launched two weeks ago.

In an effort to combat this, the Government of Guyana through the plan hopes to reduce incarceration as a punitive response to drug crimes by using alternative strategies.

The master plan, however, recommended that with the legislation in mind, the government should also look at other ways to address the issue of punishment for drug users while at the same time taking into consideration, gender, the seriousness of the crime and proportionality of harm to punishment.

The plan is also suggesting that the government revises strategies based on drug addiction, minor non-violent drug possession or trafficking. It also called for drug sentencing guidelines to be set up for minor marijuana/drug possession and small amounts of trafficking.

In cases where the users agree to seek treatment for addiction to the substance, the courtesy above should be applied to them.

The National Drug Strategy Master Plan sought to outline the goals of reduced sentencing which would assist drug addicts to seek treatment, reduce the prison population and overcrowding, increase efficiency in the court system by preventing clogged up cases at the court, allow the police to focus on more serious crimes, exercise proportionality in sentencing and lessen the influence of the criminal culture on potentially new prisoners.

On the objective side of things, the Master Plan recommended that the Government of Guyana works towards establishing drug treatment court to supervise addicts including those convicted of driving under the influence, reviewing sentencing for female drug mules and changing the law to retroactively reduce the sentence for drug possession of small quantities where necessary.

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