When I was a law student in Louisiana, I read the following story. Elementary school students in a town near the Louisiana State Prison celebrated an anti-drug program by releasing balloons with “just say no” messages attached, and a request that the person who found the balloon respond to the message. One of the balloons landed on death row at the state prison. The death row prisoner who found the balloon responded in a written note. The gist of the note was to the school: If we had said no to drugs, then none of us would be here on death row.
In the two decades since then that I have spent as a prosecutor and private attorney, it has been clear to me that the vast majority of offenders have serious drug problems.
The courts and the politicians have also recognized this basic fact. As a result, they have created the New Jersey Drug Court for people who are charged with serious crimes, and who are addicted to drugs. Entry into the court requires a long-term commitment to recovery, and agreement on the part of the defendant to accept intensive probationary supervision and rigorous drug treatment and counseling.
Drug Court is one of the approved alternatives to incarceration. Indeed, the Drug Court guidelines direct that seventy per cent to eighty per cent of the people admitted to Drug Court should be prison bound offenders. There are two provisos: (1) You are not eligible if you have committed a crime of violence, and (2) You are not eligible if you were selling drugs or otherwise profiting from your crime.
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To visit the New Jersey Drug Court website, click on the link below: