Sometimes, there are crimes that people are convicted of that probably affect very few people except the person that is arrested and charged with the crime. This is common for those arrested for drug crimes in New Jersey and many people who are convicted of these crimes end up in prison, taking up space and resources that could be better utilized elsewhere. A bill that we have written about many times and that passed the New Jersey Senate last month has now passed the Assembly, which would make it easier for judges to send those convicted of drug crimes to treatment instead of prison.
Similar legislation has been proposed by Gov. Chris Christie. The bill now has to be signed by the governor before it can become law. He says the program that the bill works to establish will help treat people who are dependent on drugs instead of crowding them into prisons.
This bill also helps raise awareness to the fact that many people who are found guilty of drug crimes might want alternative treatment to solve the root of their problem. This program would include non-violent people who are dependent on drugs. It will start with a few counties and slowly become a statewide program over the next five years.
People accused of drug crimes in New Jersey might have a difficult time understanding their rights and the legal system, as well as if they can participate in these or similar programs. An experienced attorney can help a person navigate the legal system and explore all options in a criminal defense case.
Source: Associated Press, "N.J. lawmakers approve mandatory drug treatment bill," June 25, 2012