The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office is currently developing a new program to help people who are addicted to drugs receive treatment, as opposed to facing drug charges for marijuana, heroin, cocaine, opioids like Oxycontin, and another controlled dangerous substances (CDS).
The program, entitled “Straight to Treatment,” is designed to offer people who are addicted to drugs a chance to receive treatment without being afraid they will be arrested. Under the program, a person can go to a participating police station, turn in any drugs in their possession, and receive assistance in finding a drug treatment program. Scott Coffina, the Burlington County Prosecutor, began working on the concept for the program because he felt the need to fight the drug epidemic on several fronts, including access to drug treatment programs.
At this time, there is not a launch date for the program because it is still in the planning stage, but officials hope the program will begin later this year. Evesham Township is the first town to approve participation by their police department in the program once it begins.
One of the challenges that programs like these often encounter is the availability of drug treatment providers. The ideal situation is to have the person enter a treatment program the day they come into the police station seeking help. However, this can be a difficult challenge when no treatment providers are willing or able to accept a new patient. The program designers are working on a way to ensure that people will be able to enter a program when they decide to seek assistance voluntarily. Right now, Oaks Integrated Care in Mount Holly, NJ, has entered an agreement with the township to help provide referral services and screening services for those who want to enter the program.
Drug Court Program in Burlington County, NJ
Although the aforementioned program has yet to be implemented, Burlington County currently offers several other diversionary programs for individuals who have already been arrested and charged with drug offenses. Drug Court is a prime example of a program available to non-violent offenders in Marlton, Mount Holly, Cinnaminson, Moorestown, and throughout Burlington County.
New Jersey’s Drug Courts aim to help offenders who are addicted to drugs or alcohol overcome their addiction while resolving their criminal charges. The program began in 1996 with the Essex County Superior Court and the Camden County Superior Court. By 2000, the Conference of Criminal Presiding Judges called for a comprehensive statewide proposal stating that drug courts should be adopted as a “best practice.” Drug courts offered a groundbreaking alternative to the original approach of dealing with the drug epidemic.
Today, drug courts offer offenders a way to change their lives while they are resolving a criminal charge. Each of the 21 counties in New Jersey has a drug court. Nonviolent offenders who are accepted into the program follow an intensive substance abuse treatment program as part of their probation sentence.
Probation officers and substance abuse experts closely monitor their progress to ensure they are complying with the program’s requirements, in addition to their probation requirements. Most drug treatment plans last between one and two years. Participants are expected to attend treatment sessions, meet with probation officers, and undergo random drug screenings. Since the inception of drug courts, thousands of individuals charged with drug crimes or drug-related crimes have found help with their addiction through New Jersey’s Drug Courts.
Arrested for Drugs in South Jersey? Our Experienced NJ Drug Defense Attorneys are Here to Assist You
If you have been charged with drug possession, distribution, or intent to distribute CDS in South Jersey, you should find out about all of your available options before deciding how to resolve your case. To learn more about your charges, the penalties you face, and potential ways to have your charges dismissed, contact the experienced drug defense attorneys at our criminal defense law firm today. You can reach us by phone at 609-832-3202 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.
Source: “Prosecutor’s Straight to Treatment program takes next step in planning process.” Kelly Kultys. Burlington County Times. 20 March 2018.