ASSEMBLY, No. 2883

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 10, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  GORDON M. JOHNSON

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman  ANNETTE QUIJANO

District 20 (Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes pilot program for mandatory sentencing to “drug court” program under special probation statute for certain offenders.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning treatment for drug and alcohol dependent persons and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  A two-year pilot program is established in two vicinages to determine the effectiveness of mandatory sentencing of qualified offenders to special probation under N.J.S.2C:35-14 as well as to assess the feasibility of expanding this program Statewide.  The Administrative Office of the Courts shall select the pilot vicinages and shall administer and evaluate the pilot programs in accordance with this section.

     b.    During the period that the pilot program is in effect, any defendant who is: (1) reasonably suspected to be drug dependent as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-2; (2) is ineligible for probation due to a conviction for a crime which is subject to a presumption of incarceration or a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility; and (3) meets the legal criteria for eligibility for special probation under the provisions of subsections a. and b. of N.J.S.2C:35-14 shall be ordered to undergo a professional diagnostic assessment as provided in subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-14 to determine if the defendant is drug dependent.

     c.     If, based on the results of a professional diagnostic assessment, the court determines that the defendant is drug dependent and is otherwise eligible for special probation pursuant to the provisions of subsections a. and b. of N.J.S.2C:35-14, the court shall, notwithstanding any other provision of N.J.S.2C:35-14, sentence the defendant to special probation, unless the court finds that a sentence of imprisonment must be imposed pursuant to chapters 43 and 44 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, in which case the court shall impose a sentence of imprisonment.  Subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:35-14 shall not apply in sentencing a person under this subsection.

     d.    Not later than one year following the effective date of this act, and annually thereafter for five years, the Administrative Director of the Courts shall submit to the Governor, and to the Legislature pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), a report containing an evaluation of the pilot program.  The report shall include the rates of completion and revocation for people admitted to mandatory special probation, the recidivism rates for graduates of mandatory special probation, the costs associated with implementing mandatory special probation, and any other information that may indicate the effectiveness of mandatory special probation.  The evaluation shall include comparative retention and recidivism data for non-mandatory special probation participants.  The Administrative Director of the Courts may make recommendations concerning the practicability and feasibility of expanding the pilot program Statewide and may provide recommendations for legislation or other action appropriate for adoption or consideration by the Legislature.

     e.     The Supreme Court may establish such rules and procedures as may be necessary to effectuate the purpose of this act.

 

     2. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would establish a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of mandatory sentencing of qualified offenders to the “drug court” program under the special probation statute, N.J.S.2C:35-14, as well as to assess the feasibility of expanding the program Statewide.  The pilot program would be established in two vicinages to be selected by the Administrative Office of the Courts.  The Administrative Office of the Courts would administer and evaluate the program.

     This bill would require that, in the pilot program vicinages, certain defendants be ordered to undergo a professional diagnostic assessment to determine whether and to what extent the defendant is drug dependent and would benefit from treatment.  This assessment would be ordered for any defendant who: (1) is reasonably suspected to be “drug dependent” as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-2; (2) is ineligible for probation due to a conviction for a crime that is subject to a presumption of incarceration or a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility; and (3) meets the legal criteria for admission to the “drug court” program under N.J.S.2C:35-14.

     If, based on the results of the professional diagnostic assessment, the court determines the defendant is drug dependent and otherwise eligible to be sentenced to the “drug court” program under the provisions of N.J.S.2C:35-14, the court would be required to sentence the defendant to the “drug court” program unless it finds it is required to impose a sentence of imprisonment pursuant to Chapters 43 and 44 of the Criminal Code.

     This bill also provides that subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:35-14 would not apply to defendants sentenced to the “drug court” program in the pilot program vicinages.  Currently, under subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:35-14, the prosecutor may object to a defendant’s admission to the “drug court” program where: (1) the defendant’s current conviction is for an offense involving distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) on or within 1,000 feet of school property, booby traps in a manufacturing or distribution facility, or any crime for which there exists a presumption of imprisonment; (2) the defendant was previously convicted of an offense involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a CDS; or (3) the defendant was previously convicted on two or more separate occasions of crimes of the third degree, other than possession, use, or being under the influence of a CDS.  A court may not sentence a person to the “drug court” program over the prosecutor’s objection absent a finding of gross and patent abuse of prosecutorial discretion.  Under this bill, subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:35-14 would not apply in the pilot program vicinages and a prosecutor’s objection would not operate to prevent a court from sentencing a defendant to the “drug court” program.

     This bill would require that, within one year following the effective date and for five years thereafter, the Administrative Director of the Courts submit to the Governor and the Legislature a report containing an evaluation of the pilot program.  The report would include the rates of completion and revocation for defendants admitted to the “drug court” program, recidivism rates for graduates from the “drug court” program in the pilot program vicinages, the costs associated with implementing mandatory sentencing to the “drug court” program, and any other information that may indicate the effectiveness of mandatory sentencing to the “drug court” program.  The evaluation would include comparative retention and recidivism data for non-mandatory special probation vicinages, and the Administrative Director of the Courts would be permitted to include recommendations concerning the practicability and feasibility of expanding the pilot program Statewide, as well as recommendations for legislation or other action appropriate for adoption or consideration by the Legislature.