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For immediate release: January 31,2005
For further information contact: Tamara Kendig

Bergen Vicinage Drug Court Holds Commencement Ceremony

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen Vicinage will hold a commencement ceremony for 12 of its Drug Court participants on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 427 of the Bergen Count Justice Complex at 10 Main St. in Hackensack. Superior Court Judge Paul J. Vichness will be the keynote speaker.

All current and former Drug Court participants, the general public, and the media are invited to attend.

Drug Court is dedicated exclusively to cases involving non-violent drug-using offenders and offers comprehensive supervision, drug testing, treatment and immediate sanctions and incentives. The program involves a team approach on the part of the judge, the prosecutor, defense counsel, probation officers, law enforcement and correctional personnel, educational and vocational experts, and substance abuse treatment specialists. By closely monitoring participants, the court is able to actively support the recovery process and to react swiftly to impose appropriate therapeutic sanctions or to reinstate criminal proceedings in the event of non-compliance.

Drug Courts operate in every vicinage in New Jersey and currently serve 1,850 people statewide. Since the program's inception, offenders have found employment and begun meeting their financial obligations, parents have regained custody of their children, and dozens of drug-free babies have been born to participants around the state. Drug courts have proven effective at breaking the cycle of drug abuse and crime, giving drug addicts the opportunity to become productive citizens. They are a cost-effective alternative to incarceration for non-violent offenders, and they help reduce minority over-representation in prison.

The Bergen County Drug Court, which opened in 2002, currently has 97 participants. Thursday's ceremony will be a celebration of a new phase in the lives of 12 offenders who have completed the most intensive treatment phase of the program. They will remain under close supervision of the Drug Court team during the fourth and final phase of the program.

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