The New Jersey Senate approved a measure that would create a pilot program requiring nonviolent drug offenders to enter treatment, sending it on to the governor's desk, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The bill creates a two-year pilot program to be operated in two courts. The Administrative office of the Courts would then evaluate if the mandatory “drug court” sentencing should be offered statewide.
Gov. Chris Christie called for the program to be instituted statewide, but Democrats are worried about the cost and think it requires more study. Christie criticized their piecemeal approach. The Office of Legislative Services estimated the bill would cost $2.7 million in start-up costs for “one new judge team; enrollment, supervision and assessment services; centralized coordination; and drug treatment.” Then it would save money — $2,887 for every inmate per year diverted from the county jail and $38,380 per inmate from state prison