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For immediate release: June 3, 2008
For further information contact: Winnie Comfort
Tamara Kendig 609-292-9580

New Jersey Drug Court Program Receives National Award

The New Jersey drug court program has received an award from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), Judge Philip S. Carchman, acting administrative director of the courts, today announced.

Presented at the 14 th annual NADCP training conference, the award was presented to New Jersey for committing the resources and leadership needed to ensure that the drug court program is available for all eligible offenders in the state. New Jersey is only the second state, after New York, to receive this award. The award was accepted on behalf of the New Jersey drug court program by Superior Court Judge Paul A. Armstrong, who presides over drug court in the Somerset/Hunterdon/Warren Vicinage, and Carol Venditto, statewide drug court manager.

Judge Carchman praised the New Jersey drug court program for its success: “This award is well-deserved recognition of the success we have experienced in New Jersey. Thanks to Executive and Legislative support and the tireless commitment of our drug court judges and staff, we have been able to work with prosecutors, defense attorneys, and treatment professionals to provide meaningful and effective treatment. Drug courts not only break the cycle of addiction and crime, they also help reunite families, heal communities, and direct tax dollars toward effective treatment and rehabilitation rather than ineffective punishment and incarceration.”

The NADCP is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing and promoting drug courts as an effective tool to reduce the negative social impact of drug abuse, crime and recidivism. The NADCP helps its 19,000 members around the country share information, technical information and mutual support through advocacy, publications, training conferences and on-line resources. Since 1994, NADCP has represented more than 20,000 judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment providers and rehabilitation experts, law enforcement and corrections personnel, educators, researchers and community leaders.

Drug courts are a highly specialized team process within the existing Superior Court structure that addresses nonviolent drug-related cases. They are unique in the criminal justice environment because they build a close collaborative relationship between criminal justice and drug treatment professionals. Drug court programs are rigorous, requiring completion of four phases during up to five years of intensive drug and alcohol treatment and testing, and a tightly structured regimen of treatment and recovery services. This level of supervision permits the program to support the recovery process, but also allows supervisors to react swiftly to impose appropriate therapeutic sanctions or to reinstate criminal proceedings when participants do not comply with the program.

Some additional facts about New Jersey’s drug courts:

  • New Jersey’s drug courts currently treat more than 3,000 defendants, all of whom were drug-dependent.
  • Since the inception of the program, 1,054 adults have graduated from drug court, and an additional 592 currently are in the final phase of the program.
  • Drug court participants have paid $1.3 million in court assessed fees, fines and penalties. Ninety-five percent of the approximately 175,000 drug tests administered to drug court participants have been negative.
  • Of drug offenders who were incarcerated and were not in the drug court program, 43 percent were reconvicted after their release from prison. In contrast, only 6 percent of drug court graduates have been convicted of another crime.
  • Only 24 percent of drug court participants were employed when they entered the program. By graduation, 90 percent of all drug court graduates were employed.
  • Only 16 percent of drug court participants had health insurance coverage when they entered the program. At graduation, 50 percent were covered by health insurance.
  • 1,060 minor children are benefiting from their parent’s sobriety and successful completion of the drug court program.
  • The nationally estimated savings in medical costs for one baby born drug-free is $250,000. To date, 127 babies have been born drug-free from previously addicted mothers who graduated from New Jersey’s drug courts.

For more information regarding New Jersey’s drug court program, please call Carol Venditto at 609-292-3488.

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