N.J. Drug Courts Underutilized, Officials Say

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New Jersey’s drug court program has kept many addicts out of trouble, but it doesn’t reach as many people as it should, officials told legislators yesterday, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. Hundreds of people who would benefit from the program’s strict drug-treatment regimen are sent to prison every year, the officials testified. They blamed overly strict eligibility requirements that exclude nonviolent offenders with more than two convictions and limit many participants to inpatient treatment centers. They said the state must do a better job of seeking participants. “Too many addicts are slipping through the cracks,” said Ron Susswein, deputy director of the state Division of Criminal Justice.

Public Defender Yvonne Smith Segars estimated that the 1,800 nonviolent criminals who participate in drug courts represent a fourth of the people who need help. “Instead of screening people out of the program, we need to screen more people in,” she said.

Link: http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-2/109816771019502.xml

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