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Drug Courts: New Jersey Supreme Court Broadens Eligibility

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #503)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week that judges can allow offenders to enter drug court even if they have more than one previous conviction for a nonviolent offense. An earlier appeals court ruling had limited drug court eligibility only to those eligible for "special probation," which is limited to drug- or alcohol-using defendants with no more than one prior conviction.

Drug courts are designed to divert drug offenders or offenders with drug issues into a closely monitored drug treatment program instead of jail or prison.

While the state argued that only defendants eligible for "special probation" qualify for diversion, the state Supreme Court held that there is more than one route to drug court. Judges have the discretion to admit nonviolent offenders who would likely receive a probationary sentence anyway, the court held.

"It is inconceivable that the legislature granted a trial court power to impose a probationary sentence, but not the power to attach the one condition necessary to address the offender's desperate needs -- a drug rehabilitation program," Albin wrote in the unanimous opinion.

"Drug courts have achieved notable success," Albin continued. When someone with a drug problem is likely to get probation, Justice Barry Albin wrote, "it is preferable that defendant be monitored within a specialized court with personnel who have the particularized skills and training to maximize the prospect of the offender's rehabilitation."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

my daughter is imprisoned in monmouth countuy jail for a month now, she had to file a application ands yet to be assessed s to where they should put her.if they do not want drug curt, the prisoners are to write to rehabs o their own, where it is said wwhen entering drug court, the will have a beter chance of getng in a drug hab soner that is bs,, it takes longer,if she was out on probation, shewould be in a long term drug rehab, the prison systemdoes not dothere part f the jon, bymaking interviews fr these prisoners, they basicly have go to wait until al the people involved in the process of o geting thm into drug rehabs do their jobs, which takes time understandiby so. i admit these prisoners need help, but by being in jail, they are not geting the proper help needed tofr ther drug addiction. put them n probation, wich is just as strick and they can actively look int getting in a rehab soone

Fri, 10/05/2007 - 5:18am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

My daughter has been in and out of temp rehabs for 3 years now and in and out of Jails... Nothing works The court system needs to get on the ball and help these idiots, My daughter has a 21 month old that the father has custody of Not much better but Today my daughter after being on house arrest just 30 days just screwed up once again and started with the excuses of blame on everyone but herself,,,,,, she just wanted another quick fix with the suboxine program she was going fulltime in an outpatient rehab everyday from 9-3pm but nothing works she knows everything of the programs and knows every topic but that isnot enough soo now she is in jail

Sun, 06/22/2008 - 12:55am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

listen to me monmouth cty drug court is the best, i was i n it, those court people will do there best for your daughter, and they care, there not blowing smoke, she will be placed in a program that they will find, she and you need to sit back and relax,

Sun, 07/12/2009 - 3:02pm Permalink
fip (not verified)

What if you graduated from drug court successfully & two yrs later you relapse & catch another charge? Are you ineligable to get drug court again ? Even if your relapse was do to the lost of your child.

Sun, 09/05/2010 - 8:21pm Permalink

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