Treatment and Rehabilitation – At What Cost?
If you’ve been charged with certain drug offenses or are a repeat drug offender, you may be eligible for New Jersey’s drug court program. Drug courts address non-violent drug-related cases, and focus on the treatment and rehabilitation of drug offenders. The goal of New Jersey’s drug court program is to keep people out of prison, and give them a second chance to beat the disease of addiction.
A collaboration between criminal justice officials and drug treatment professionals, New Jersey drug courts support participants through therapeutic intervention, frequent random drug testing, and mandatory court appearances.
What is New Jersey’s Drug Court?
An alternative to prison time, drug courts focus on treatment and rehabilitation. Participants are required to attend treatment sessions which may include outpatient or inpatient counseling, meet with probation officers, and appear before the drug court judge. Participants also receive support from other drug court members who are currently in the program, or have successfully completed it.
Who is eligible for New Jersey Drug Court?
Adults who have been charged with a crime that has a presumption of incarceration may be eligible to participate in New Jersey’s drug court program. The program is for people facing lengthy prison sentences, but who could benefit from employment, intense supervision, random and frequent drug testing, and periodic court appearances.
Prospective drug court participants come under the court’s supervision shortly after arrest. Applicants must undergo a legal review and clinical assessment by drug court personnel. Violent and repeat offenders are usually not eligible for the program. Once accepted, participants begin a clinically-driven treatment program that lasts from 12 to 24 months. Participants must take the program seriously, because failure to meet any requirements will result in immediate termination from the program.
What are the benefits of Drug Court?
Drug courts are intended to reduce drug use and reduce the number of repeat offenders by closely supervising participants, placing and keeping drug offenders in treatment programs, and providing drug offenders with treatment services shortly after arrest. New Jersey drug courts also save taxpayer dollars by replacing expensive annual incarceration costs with less expensive drug treatment costs.
Is Drug Court right for me?
The requirements to stay in the New Jersey drug court program are strict. If a participant tests positive for drugs or alcohol, misses an appearance with a treatment provider or drug court judge, or fails to pay the fees and fines associated with the program the participant will be terminated from the program, and is likely to face jail or prison time.
The down-side to participation in a drug court program is that defendants must give up many of their Constitutional rights in order to participate. A study by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers found that offenders who enter drug court may actually spend more time in jail than they otherwise would have if they did not enter the program.
In New Jersey, most drug charges are crimes of the third degree. Conviction can result in a sentence of 3 to 5 years in the New Jersey State Prison. Drug Court participants who do not successfully complete the program often receive the maximum sentence. In some cases, people charged with drug crimes might actually receive a lesser sentence by pleading guilty to a non-drug court sentence. While they wouldn’t receive treatment, they would spend less time in jail or prison.
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime in New Jersey and wonder if drug court is right for you, contact me at The Slaven Law Firm today. A former prosecutor, I have extensive experience handling drug cases throughout Central New Jersey, including Middlesex County, Burlington County, and Mercer County. Call (609) 587-3250, or complete my online form.