Cunningham-Turner Bill To Help Drug Courts Signed Into Law

Senator Sandra Cunningham listens to testimony during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing.

TRENTON � A bill, S-1950, sponsored by Senators Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Shirley K. Turner, to create two new Superior Court judgeships to help expedite a State program to rehabilitate non-violent drug offenders and make them employable citizens has been signed into law by Governor Corzine.

�Warehousing drug offenders wastes taxpayers� money and prevents such offenders from gaining the skills they need to cope in the work world,� said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. �Drug addicts need job training, education , positive reinforcement as well as supervision.�

�These two new judges will give the State eight full-time Superior Court judgeships throughout New Jersey who handle only drug cases involving offenders deemed capable of rehabilitation, job training and re-entry to society,� said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. �In my home county of Hudson, the number of drug cases is at such a high level that I believe we would qualify to receive one of the new judgeships.�

Under the bill, two additional judgeships would be charged with just hearing drug cases under a State program to make 400 additional drug offenders eligible for intensive supervision, drug treatment, counseling and job training.

�This helps make the court system more responsive to today�s needs to rehabilitate drug offenders and ensure adequate space for those who should be separated from society,� said Senator Cunningham.

Senator Turner said the increase in the number of drug court judges �should begin to demonstrate the potential of the program� to reduce recidivism and find jobs for formerly incarcerated residents of New Jersey.

�Once the positive aspects of rehabilitated drug offenders are realized, the benefits of this program will be recognized and taxpayers will appreciate how investment in people now will pay off later,� Senator Turner said.

Corzine signed the bill privately on Monday, June 30th.