© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Conservative MLA James Aylward says it is heartbreaking to sit in court and see young people appear on charges involving drug addiction.
James Aylward visits Prince Edward Island provincial court
After an open invite from a provincial court judge, at least one MLA has taken up her offer to attend court to see the impact addictions have on P.E.I.
Stratford-Kinlock PC MLA James Aylward has visited the courthouse twice to see some of the cases going through the system.
“It’s heartbreaking to see all these kids come up on these charges and moving forward they’re more than likely going to have a record that’s going to follow them, just all because of an addiction,” he said.
Last month Judge Nancy Orr suggested MLAs visit her courtroom to learn more about the impacts of crimes committed by people with drug addictions.
That suggestion came after a 36-year-old former RCMP dispatcher’s sentencing for crimes she committed to feed her addiction to prescription drugs. In that case, Orr sentenced the woman, who had no previous criminal record, to 18 months in jail and ordered her to pay almost $30,000 in restitution.
Orr isn’t the only judge to voice her concerns about the addictions issue.
Chief Judge John Douglas recently spoke out in court saying drug abuse cases are an almost daily occurrence in his court and have become an epidemic.
Aylward visited both judges’ courtrooms, but said he tried to be inconspicuous so he wouldn’t be noticed and could just watch the proceedings.
“Try to observe,” he said.
What he noticed was the sheer volume of cases that came up during his time there that involved drug addictions.
“That’s one part of it,” he said.
Aylward said it also gave a sense of the high monetary costs of addictions because it ties up resources such as court staff, police officers, jail staff and lawyers.
“Just the sheer cost and the waste. The waste of our youth.”