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Vitale Bill Providing Access to Drug Treatment Programs for Inmates Heads to Governor

Vitale Session

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale that would provide access to drug treatment programs for inmates in State correctional facilities with detainers or open charges issued against them cleared the Senate today.

The bill, S-2409, would eliminate the restriction pursuant to regulations of the Department of Corrections that excludes inmates with detainers or open charges from eligibility to participate in drug treatment programs operating within State correctional facilities.

“If we don’t treat inmates afflicted with addiction, statistics show that they will continue to get caught in the criminal justice system. There should be no exception to substance abuse treatment for those who need it, and we should remove any access barriers,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “It’s time to update our current practices if we are to have a fighting chance at beating addiction and bringing down the recidivism rate in our state’s criminal justice system.”

Currently, in order to participate in drug treatment available as part of the residential community release program, the mutual assistance program, or the therapeutic community substance abuse disorder treatment program, an inmate is required to be classified as “full minimum custody status.” Inmates who have any detainers or open charges from any jurisdiction issued against them are excluded from “full minimum custody status.”

Under the bill, an inmate with a detainer or open charge would only be eligible for drug treatment programs which operate in State correctional facilities.

The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 37-0 and in the Assembly by a vote of 77-0-0. It next heads to the Governor for consideration.

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