As New Jersey criminal defense attorneys, we have consistently supported and promoted drug courts as an alternative option to prison for certain kinds of drug offenders. A new study by the New Jersey Judiciary confirms that the use of the drug court system has changed many lives, giving offenders the chance to turn their lives around.
The report is titled A Model for Success: A Report on New Jersey's Adult Drug Courts, and features a number of success stories from the drug court system. The New Jersey Adult Drug Court Program provides an alternative to incarceration for drug offenders who have an addiction problem. Instead of being imprisoned, these offenders are offered the chance to participate in a voluntary and therapeutic program that is designed to eliminate their dependence on drugs and, consequently, crime.
The courts function within the Superior Court structure, and they are specifically designed to address certain types of drug crimes, like nonviolent drug offenses. The Drug Court system consists of a number of professionals who work together with judges and court staff. These professionals include attorneys, probation officers, substance abuse evaluators and treatment counselors, all of who work to support the offender and monitor his recovery.
A participant in the drug court program is required to undergo frequent, rigorous monitoring and supervision, and may be put through frequent testing. He may be required to appear in court often to evaluate rehabilitation. According to the Department of Corrections in 2001, offenders who were sent to prison reported a 54 percent rate of re-arrest and a 43 percent rate of conviction. In contrast, participants in the drug court program showed re-arrest rates of 16 percent and conviction rates of just 8 percent.
This proves beyond a doubt that the drug court program has been highly successful as an alternative to incarceration, and it is a valuable tool to reduce recidivism rates in New Jersey.