Today, Your Legal Corner will discuss “Drug Court in New Jersey.”
“See this guy here, this is the toughest opponent you are ever going to face.” In the latest installment of Rocky movies entitled, “Creed,” Rocky Balboa says this as he points at the reflection of his young protégé shadowboxing in the mirror.
While Rocky has made more comebacks than the Rolling Stones, its’ story of redemption and second chances rings true and has inspired generations of fans.
For many battling the throes of addiction, their toughest battle is with the man (or woman) in the mirror. However, we all need help. New Jersey’s Drug Court Program helps to keep countless people out of prison and gives them a second chance at beating this terrible disease.
What are Drug Courts?
Drug Courts are an alternative to incarceration that focuses on treatment and rehabilitation. Criminal Justice professionals recognize the cost savings of treatment over incarceration. Drug Courts provide treatment services shortly after arrest at little or no cost in a closely supervised setting.
Who is eligible?
Adults charged with a crime that has a presumption of incarceration may be eligible. It includes not only drug offenses but also other crimes motivated by drug addiction. Applicants must undergo a legal review and clinical assessment by drug court personnel. Generally, violent and repeat offenders are excluded from the program.
The Drug Court Program
After acceptance into Drug Court, participants begin a clinically driven treatment program that generally lasts from 12 to 24 months. Participants are required to attend treatment sessions, undergo random drug testing, meet with their probation officers and appear before the Drug Court judge. Participants get support from sponsors who are other Drug Court members currently in the program or who have successfully completed the program.
Does it work?
According to the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts, over 18,000 participants have been enrolled in Drug Court since it began in 2002. Over 4,000 have graduated the program. There are currently over 5,900 participants. Importantly, 84% of graduates are employed at the time of graduation. Approximately 61% have obtained a valid driver’s license. There have been 348 drug free babies born to participants in the program.
Expansion of Drug Court Program
Due to its success, in July 2012, Governor Christie signed a new law expanding those eligible for the Drug Court Program. Initially, Drug Court was voluntary, motivating individuals to address their disease instead of being incarcerated. In 2013, the law was further amended so courts can compel drug offenders who are initially resistant to addressing their substance abuse problem into the Drug Court Program.
The expansion of Drug Courts has been done in phases to ensure there is sufficient funding for treatment for all the participants. It will be statewide in the near future. For more information, please contact your lawyer or go to read about New Jersey Drug Court here.
Addiction is the toughest opponent many of us will ever face. We all deserve a second chance and with Drug Court many will get the help they need.
Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner, will discuss “Conflicts in the Law.”
Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law offices of Hoffman DiMuzio.
Send questions, or comments to Victoria at [email protected]. Or call 856-845-8243.
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice. Click here to read more articles from Your Legal Corner.