By Greg Lambard
Family Division Manager
Assistant Family Division Manager and
Morris/Sussex vicinage celebrated the fifth anniversary of its Family Drug Court program during ceremony on Jan. 22 at the Morris County Courthouse in Morristown.
Graduates and current participants in the program shared poignant details of how the program has changed their lives.
One participant, who had no family or other support system to help her in her struggle to overcome addition, said she now considers everyone in the program her “family.”
Assignment Judge B. Theodore Bozonelis, Family Division Presiding Judge Thomas L. Weisenbeck and Family Division Manager Greg Lambard addressed the graduates and guests.
The keynote speech was delivered by Judge Stephan C. Hansbury, who was the first judge to preside over the Family Drug Court. Each speaker expressed thanks for the hard work and dedication of those who made the vision of Family Drug Court a reality.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and Judge Glenn A. Grant, acting administrative director of the courts, also attended the ceremony. Chief Justice Rabner congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments and said the program could be expanded to other vicinages.
Family Drug Court is an innovative program that addresses the needs of parents whose addictions have put them at risk of losing their children.
The program offers parents an opportunity to work toward recovery and to regain custody of their children. Participants must undergo substance abuse treatment, frequent drug testing, parenting and relationship counseling and make weekly court appearances.
Morris/Sussex was the first vicinage in New Jersey to implement the Family Drug Court program, which it began with no outside funding in 2004. Essex County also operates a Family Drug Court.
The Morris/Sussex Family Drug Court has been instrumental in reuniting 18 families. There have been 19 graduates, and 10 participants are enrolled.
The program was recently awarded a grant from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.