Drugs courts are not particularly new, but New Jersey’s legislature may add a new element to them, making participation mandatory in certain instances.
In March, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his plans to expand the state’s existing drug court program to include a mandate that non-violent, drug-addicted offenders participate. Legislation putting these ideas into effect has been introduced in the last several weeks and has advanced in the legislative process.
The first bill introduced was SB 1877 on May 3. It would apply statewide and in almost all cases involving non-violent, drug-addicted offenders. That bill is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A second batch of bills (AB 2883 and the identical SB 1963) were introduced May 10 and 17, respectively. Unlike the SB 1877 version, AB 2883/SB1963 create the mandatory drug court system as a two-year pilot program and limit the focus to two vicinages (judicial districts) chosen by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The AOC would also be responsible for administering the pilot program.
AB 2883 was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on May 14. SB 1963 is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.