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February 25, 2007

NJ commission endorsing expanding drug courts

According to this article in the Newark Star Ledger, the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing will soon be issuing a major report calling for expanded use of drug courts.  Here are more details:

New Jersey should make it easier for drug offenders to get into a special probation program that allows them to avoid prison time by getting rehab and staying clean, a blue ribbon commission will recommend next month.  The New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing has concluded that expanding the drug courts program could help more offenders deal with the underlying addiction that prompted them to turn to crime in the first place....

More than 4,300 adults entered New Jersey's drug courts since they were expanded to every county in April 2002. They avoid jail by attending a six-month inpatient rehabilitation program and remaining drug-free for five years. The commission, which spent a year examining the effectiveness of drug courts, wants to open them to several hundred more offenders, including addicts who are facing mandatory jail time.  It will make its recommendations in a report to the state Legislature....

Since 2001, only 10 percent of the 635 offenders who graduated from a drug court in New Jersey have been arrested again.  Several national surveys have found the recidivism rates from offenders who went through drug courts is lower than that of addicted criminals who went to prison or were placed on regular probation.  No comprehensive studies have been conducted in New Jersey.

One reason drug courts are gaining favor is because they help alleviate prison overcrowding and save money.  The state Department of Correction spends about $36,000 a year to house a prisoner, compared with an average of $10,000 a year for offenders in drug court.

Some related posts about drug court programs and research:

February 25, 2007 at 06:20 AM | Permalink

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