Non-Violent Drug Offenders to Get Treatment, Not Jail Time

Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill into law July 19. In the next five years, it should save money and provide the help, rather than jail time, that non-violent addicts need.

Throughout the next five years, New Jersey will phase in a new law designed to lower taxpayer costs by providing mandatory drug treatment instead of prison time for non-violent offenders.

The legislation S-881/A-2883 could offer a significant financial savings as well, according to a press release from New Jersey Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39).

Moving some 7,000 non-violent drug offenders currently housed in the New Jersey prison system into treatment programs could lower the estimated annual cost of keeping them of the streets from $49,000 per inmate to somewhere between $11,000 and $22,000.

In a statement accompanying the release, Schepisi called the law "a life-changing opportunity" for addiction sufferers and those harmed by their actions.

“While we cannot measure the compassion of such a program in dollars and cents, offering help to those in need is a benchmark of our society,” she said.

The terms of the law require a defendant in the New Jersey court system to submit to diagnostic assessment if the court has "a reasonable basis to believe that the defendant may be drug dependent," the release read.

If the defendent is deteremined to be drug-dependent and meets the eligibility criteria of the New Jersey Drug Court program, "the court must sentence the defendant to drug court regardless of whether the defendant has sought or consents to such a sentence," the release read.

"Instead of being stuck in a prison cell with little hope of rehabilitation, it’s a positive, compassionate approach to helping the addicted on the road to recovery," Schepisi said in the release.

Such a bill may have helped and his Collingswood neighbors interrupt a cycle of theft and burglary that persisted until his eventual arrest in late June.

Richards' girlfriend Amanda Dougherty told Patch earlier this month that it wasn't until he was incarcerated and given access to rehabilitative counseling programs that the father of her two children could think about turning the corner on his problems.

“He said [jail] is good for him; [that] this is what he needs,” Dougherty said. “He’s a good father when he’s sober."

Gary B July 24, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Puppy dogs, sunflowers, nonviolent drug offenders & apple pie. I just love how the media & politicians redefine words to make them sound cute when they see fit. This is about greed as the law has nothing to do with 'helping'. There are rehab facilities all throughout New Jersey & any addict can go, one does not need a conviction on the resume for help. The fact is after an addict has run through every cent they stole from neighbors, strangers, co-workers, friends, family & loved ones, they still are in denial of getting clean. They just find more new tactics on how to get high. I'd like for Chris Christie to spend some time in Linden, Jersey City or Newark. I'd like for all politicians to live a week or two in drug ridden areas. Let him see what drugs do to a community. Walk the streets (no body guards) and see how well he fairs, let's see if he likes having his 16 year old daughter Sarah walk around town. I see what drugs have done to Haddon Township, and it will not get better so long as people keep their heads in the sand....but then again, when a few dozen redistributed new addicts show up here in 'suburbia' and crime really sails, the towns people might notice. An addict vandalizes everything they touch. An addict steals without mercy. An addict will get YOUR loved child involved in drugs anyway they can. I'm all for rehabbing addicts, ABSOLUTELY, and it can be done behind walls away from society.
Adam July 24, 2012 at 06:25 PM
I hope you're not talking about a marijuana user. You see, marijuana can be grown for mere pennies in your own home. It doesn't cost nearly anything at all. Besides, it's a plant. Do you consider any other plant to be "evil" and a problem? This rehab BS is just a stopgap measure. It will not help. Let them put me in there. I'll just get out and go back to smoking twice as much as I was before I got in. The government will someday realize you can't stop people from doing what they want to do. You can only steal their freedom and their money.
Anne Carroll July 24, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Governor Christie, at least for today, you are MY HERO. Normally I do not like anything you do as governor, nor do I like you as a person, but you've got it right this time! Three cheers for the Guv! And yes Adam, the government will someday realize you can't stop people from doing what they want to do. If people want drugs (soft or hard) they will get their drugs, that is why our War on Drugs is a complete disaster. It can't be won. There are other way better ways to deal with our drug problem.
life time resident July 25, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I'd like to thank Adam for proving definitively that THC kills brain cells. Other plants that are a problem or evil...lets see...Rosary Pea, Angel’s trumpet, Water hemlock and Monkshood...just to name a few, are all highly poisonous, not to mention the most obvious ones, coca and poppy....Thanks again Adam...no wonder they call it dope!
Adam July 25, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Do you drink? Do you smoke cigarettes? Do you take any pills? If so, shut your mouth right now. You are no better than a marijuana user, and a marijuana user is no better than you. Why can't people be allowed to deal with reality however they wish? I hope there's a special place in hell for you my "friend."
Gary B July 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM
The state ought to be administering anger management and etiquette classes if anything. Social media used as litmus test demonstrates how fast this nation has fallen.
Jersey Teapot-Party July 26, 2012 at 12:27 AM
This is a big waste of money. Most pot smokers don't need treatment, court, arrest, etc they need to be LTFA. They should just decriminalize it and be done with the tyranny on pot smokers. But CC don't want that because his buddies halfway houses would go empty, his other buddy that runs the treatment centers go without patients, and his buddy at the legal drug companies would loose business to medical cannabis, and his buddy at the private prisons looses guests, and his law enforcement buddies would have to do real work and catch real criminals to look tough on crime. The mentality is those demonic pot smokers! if we could just rid our neighborhoods of Pot smokers, peace and prosperity would return. Who cares if we ruin pot smokers lives by criminalizing them and rendering them no longer qualified to clean toilets. End Prohibition return to sanity and freedom in the US! Lets start in Jersey like our founding fathers did. Tell your state senators to pass the decriminalization bill and save us some money and stop ruining young lives.
life time resident July 26, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Adam...no, no and only when I'm sick, but you're providing a great amount of comedic fodder....please keep going.
Adam July 26, 2012 at 05:11 PM
life time resident, you are blind, ignorant, and in complete denial of the state of the country as well as the entire world. Go put your head back in the sand and stop trying to act like you understand what's going on around you.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I think this is the first time I've seen LTFA as an acronym, JTP. And I have to say I'm a fan.
life time resident July 26, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Adam, do you mean that the entire country...no wait...the entire world thinks like you and is in the same mental state you're in? YIKES!!!...we are in trouble
Adam July 26, 2012 at 06:29 PM
No, you're in trouble due to your own ignorance. You refuse to wake up. The truth is not happy or pretty. Only the minority see it. Why can't you? We are owned by Zionists. They are angry. They will see to it that you and everybody else suffers for what your ancestors have done to the Jewish people. Just watch. We are dying a slow, miserable death and it's so subtle that nobody sees it except a few.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Have we descended into Zionist conspiracy comments here, folks? Come on, that's not helping anything in this conversation.
Anne Carroll July 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I agree Matt via Jersey Teapot: LTFA is a great acronym! You have sparked my imagination: how about LMFA? Says it all without being offensive.
Gary B July 26, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Matt you terrible terrible moderator you. The young lad was clearly on the cusp of exposing it all. And you crushed him. And now, the world may never know,,, ah shucks.
life time resident July 26, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Oh man....I am in trouble....my heritage is German! Damn, Adam....and here I was just thinking that you were just some run of the mill crackpot stoner...(sorry stoners....I didn't mean that the two are synonymous)...darn, I better start writing my epitaph and making final arrangements.
Adam July 26, 2012 at 08:36 PM
That would be LMTFA, Anne. I don't like how we remove "the" from acronyms. Why do we do that?
Gary B July 26, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Because the greedy Zionist steal the letters. And then they charge huge fees for acronyms.
life time resident July 27, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Oh No..... maybe they're stashing them away in preperation for a future Zionist T party!
Adam July 27, 2012 at 01:27 PM
You laugh now, but that's only because you're absolutely terrified of the bleak future.


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