TURNER LEGISLATION TO REQUIRE RANDOM DRUG TESTING IN HALFWAY HOUSES, OTHER RESIDENTIAL FACILITIES APPROVED BY COMMITTEE

Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) testifies during today’s Senate voting session.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner to require random drug tests for inmates who are receiving treatment in a residential community release program was approved today by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

“We have to take additional steps to ensure that residential facilities aimed at rehabilitation are drug-free,” said Senator Turner (D- Hunterdon and Mercer). “This is about helping people who are trying to recover in these facilities, and having drugs within the facility is a counter to that effort.”

A Whitehouse.gov study showed that in New Jersey, heroin was the most commonly used drug among primary drug treatment admissions in 2010. An NJ.com article published earlier this year revealed 741 heroin-related deaths in 2013 account for 8.3 deaths per 100,000 people in the state, far outpacing the national figure of 2.6 for the same year.

“We have to make sure that individuals in residential community release programs are staying clean.  This measure will help to curb the use of these harmful drugs by those in the facility, since inmates will be on alert that they could be tested at any time,” said Senator Turner.”

S-2947 defines a “residential community release program” as an assessment and treatment center, halfway house, or substance use disorder treatment programs operating under the authority of the Department of Corrections (DOC).  Also covered under the bill are non-profit or for-profit subcontractors that operate a residential community release program under the authority of the DOC. The Commissioner of Corrections shall oversee random drug testing of all State inmates in residential community release programs.

This bill will try to fight the issue of drug abuse by inmates by authorizing the DOC to randomly test the inmates for all controlled dangerous substances.

S-2947 was approved 4-0 and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.