A volunteer retired judge is on island to help the CNMI in establishing its own drug court.
Retired judge Steve Hansen will be on Saipan for six months and will be working with Superior Court Associate Judge David Wiseman.
“I’ve come on an assignment from my church as a volunteer. The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints send retired judges to various parts of the world to help with the judicial system wherever they’re needed. We’re here as volunteers,” Hansen said during last Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Saipan meeting, where he served as guest speaker.
Hansen is from Utah where he helped establish two drug courts.
“In drug courts, judges take on an entirely different role. They become part of the treatment team. The judge rolls up his sleeves, he gets off the bench, he gets down with the people, he meets with the treatment team every week. They discuss how each person did during the week and what they can do to progress during the week as well,” Hansen said.
He said that drug courts work and it is backed by science. “This isn’t just some program that we’ve come up with out of the blue, that we’re experimenting with. This is a program that’s been proven, established and it works throughout the United States.”
He noted that the community’s continued support is also vitally important.
Drug courts were started 20 years ago and there are now over 3,000 in the United States. It is considered as one of the most effective way in the criminal justice system in dealing with drug abuse and criminal behavior.
“It’s time for Saipan to have the blessings and benefits of this wonderful program. You have a beautiful island here, it’s a paradise,” Hansen said.
He said the benefits of a drug court may be seen in the next year or two after it is established.