LESNIAK-SACCO BILL HELPING DRUG OFFENDERS TRANSITION BACK INTO SOCIETY SIGNED INTO LAW

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Supreme Court Justice Nominee Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina, 10/17/13

TRENTON — Legislation sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Senator Nicholas Sacco (D-Hudson, Bergen) to allow state correctional facilities and county jails to be licensed for treatment programs to help offenders with substance abuse problems make an easier transition back into society was signed into law on Thursday.

“Many offenders are already participating in these programs while incarcerated, and if these programs meet the state’s standards they should not be denied the support they need to stay drug free after release,” said Lesniak. “This can be the difference between a successful transition back into society and returning to prison. Recovery and rehabilitation should be the priority. ”

The new law (S-686/A-2295), will also permit former inmates who complete treatment programs that meet the state standards to be eligible for critical public assistance when they are released.

“This law is long overdue. The only reason these programs are not currently eligible for additional grants and other benefits is because they are located within a correctional facility,” said Sacco. “If they meet the requirements, then they should be eligible for the benefits and participants should be eligible for public assistance upon release.”

The law requires the Division of Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services to grant residential treatment program licenses to programs operating in state correctional facilities and county jails that meet state license requirements. The law ensures these programs are not denied a license because they are located within a correctional setting.

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