Following through on his commitment to take a smarter and more effective approach focused on treating drug-addicted offenders, Governor Christie signed landmark, bipartisan legislation into law that put in place a statewide, mandatory drug court program. The legislation acts on Governor Christie’s belief that no life is disposable and that it is a commonsense and moral imperative to help individuals dealing with drug addiction reclaim their lives with treatment, rather than warehousing them in prison.
Drug court programs require intensive probation supervision of the participant along with a structured course of treatment and recovery services. This provides supervisors with the ability to support the recovery process, while at the same time allows for swift action to impose appropriate therapeutic sanctions or to reinstate criminal proceedings when participants cannot comply with the program.
Operationally, the drug court judge leads a team of court staff, attorneys, probation officers, substance abuse evaluators and treatment professionals who work together to support and monitor a participant's recovery while maintaining a crucial balance of supervision, support and encouragement.
Elements of the program include regular court appearances, frequent, random drug testing, detoxification, if necessary; residential programs, if needed; intensive outpatient programs; individual and group counseling; 12-step, self-help groups; relapse prevention, sanctions and incentives; community service requirements and other ancillary services.
Moreover, participation in the program fosters personal accountability on the part of the participant; payment of child support and other financial obligations; education and full-time employment as well as involvement with self-help and community organizations to support participant recovery after graduation from Drug Court.
To date, 12 vicinages participate, in the Drug Court Program and includes 17 counties, (Ocean, Hudson, Somerset/Hunterdon/Warren, Passaic, Mercer, Atlantic/Cape May, Bergen, Burlington, and Monmouth, Essex, Cumberland/Salem/Gloucester and Middlesex). The year’s state budget increases funding to support the operational costs needed to expand the Drug Court Program into the final three vicinages.