Option Would Give Non-Violent Offenders a Second Chance at Getting Clean
TRENTON – Senator Raymond J. Lesniak today called on the State’s drug court judges to exercise a little-used option allowing them to incarcerate non-violent offenders who’re already enrolled in drug court and have violated the provisions of their special drug court probation.
“Kicking the drug habit isn’t as simple as enrolling in a 12-step program,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “Many will falter and waiver, but at the end of the day, the drug court program gives non-violent drug offenders an alternative to incarceration and a chance at a drug-free life. Rather than drop them from the treatment program, drug court judges can take advantage of a little known option to temporarily incarcerate offenders who slip from recovery, so that they can continue to make progress towards a life beyond drug dependency.”
In a letter send to the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) earlier this week, Senator Lesniak urged drug court judges to make use of this provision of the drug court law, in order to give people enrolled in the program who’ve violated the terms of their probation another chance.
“We established drug courts because they save money, save lives and reduce crime,” wrote Senator Lesniak. “If a term in jail is needed to turn an addict’s life around, we need to do it. Drug Courts must use every available tool in their arsenal to help addicts succeed; we cannot afford to ignore any section of the drug court law.”
Senator Lesniak has already received a reply from the AOC noting that his suggestions will be discussed by a panel of criminal presiding judges in order to determine the next best step in guaranteeing that drug court sentencing policy is utilized to its utmost potential in order to encourage drug treatment over long-term incarceration.
Click here to read Senator Lesniak’s Letter to the AOC on the underutilization of the drug court incarceration policy.
Click here to read the response from the AOC to Senator Lesniak’s letter.