Drug court programs are beneficial

Dear Editor:
I am writing to advocate drug court programs which have become increasingly popular in New Jersey in recent times. Drug courts serve as a probationary sentencing alternative to prison for nonviolent offenders. Currently, there are more than 3,500 participants in New Jersey.
The focus of the program is rehabilitation which is implemented by intense treatment and supervision through random drug testing and frequent court appearances.
Participants must be found to be drug-dependent, have no record of violent offenses and be recommended by prosecutors to drug court. The cost of an offender participating in drug court is far less than incarceration.
The most compelling argument in favor of this program is that the recidivism rate for those who successfully complete the program is 16 percent, compared with 60 percent rate of drug offenders released from state prison.
Clearly, the benefits of this program are beneficial to defendants, taxpayers and society as addicts receive necessary care that is aimed at effectively addressing drug habits and it costs less money that sending an offender to prison.
Furthermore, it should be a goal of the judicial system to afford offenders the opportunity to transition into a productive environment that serves as a deterrent to substance abuse.
In closing, I encourage the New Jersey judicial system to further utilize drug courts as a viable alternative system to corrections facilities when offenders qualify for such treatment.

Brian P. Stack
State Senator

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group