NJ Drug Court standards
- March 2, 2010
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According the the NJ State Judiciary website, the mission of drug courts is “to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs and related criminal activity.” Drug courts exist within the Criminal Division of the Superoir Courts of New Jersey and are designed to assist non-violent drug users with potential for rehabilitation. In drug court, the judge monitors a participant’s recovery inside the courtroom weekly. In the interim the participant is supervised by probation officers, substance evaluators, and drug treatment specialists. Regular and consistent monitoring was selected to reduce the opportunity for relapse and enable swift intervention in the event of relapse.
A standardized assessment process is utilized to identify eligible offenders and an individual applying to the Court for drug court will most likely be admitted or denied based on the substance of this report although the attorney or other advocate for the individual may attend the team meeting and make arguements on behalf of an individual who would otherwise be denied. Clearly the arguments made must be based on sound reasoning indicating that the individual is in fact likely to respond well to treatment. The likelihood that the individual wishing to enter the program will respond well to treatment is the key element of drug court admissibility. Additionational important factors are prior failed attempts within the program, criminal history, and nature of offense committed.
In regard to the nature of the offense committed, it is required that the offense be non-violent in order to balance the interest in the individual in being rehabilitated is not overly burdensome on the community’s right to be safe from harm. Recently, the issue of whether an individual involved in burglaries was a viable candidate in light of the non-violent offender provision of drug court.
In many cases, individuals with drug habits will burglarize homes in order to steal money or other items they may sell to support thier drug habits. The issue then comes down to whether this makes the offender violent. Although burglary does give rise to the potential for violence in the event the offender encounters anyone inside the structure, it is also very possible that a burglary will occur without any violent incident. The outcome of this case will clearly have substantial effect on the ability of potential participants to enter drug court in the future and the ability of the NJ Drug Courts to carry out their mission “to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs and related criminal activity.”
For more information on the NJ Drug Court program visit www.judiciary.state.nj.us/criminal/crdrgct.htm.
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