Senate Passes Cunningham-Turner Bill To Help Drug Courts

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

TRENTON ? The Senate today approved a bill, S-1950, sponsored by Senators Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Shirley K. Turner, to create two new Superior Court judgeships to handle drug cases as part of a State program to rehabilitate non-violent drug offenders and make them employable citizens. The vote was 35-0.

?This legislation will enhance the capability of the State drug court program to expedite cases involving drug offenders so they can gain access to the resources of education and counseling which will help them become productive members of society,? said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson.

“Warehousing drug offenders is a waste of taxpayers’ money and results in eventually releasing them without the tools needed to cope in the work world,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “Drug addicts need job training, education and positive reinforcement.”

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.

“The children of drug offenders will benefit by getting rehabilitated parents living new lives and providing for their families while prison space will be freed up for truly hardened criminals who deserve to have their freedom forfeited,” said Senator Cunningham.

Senator Turner said additional judges are needed because delays in the justice system are preventing the merits of the drug court programs from being realized throughout 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.