Prosecutor, governor celebrate Drug Court graduates

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp joined Governor Chris Christie and other county and state officials Monday in honoring 27 participants of Morris County Drug Court.

The Drug Court graduation ceremony was conducted by Morris County Assignment Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz along with Judge James M. DeMarzo, who presides over Drug Courts in both Morris and Sussex counties.

Drug courts began in some counties as a pilot program in 1996, but gained widespread efficacy in 2012 when the governor expanded them statewide and made them mandatory. The aim of the courts is to offer non-violent drug offenders treatment as opposed to incarceration.

Some 27 individuals were honored in ceremonies at the Morris Museum in Morris Township. Thirteen have graduated from the Drug Court program and 14 are in the program’s final or “commencement” stage with graduation planned for this fall.

Governor Christie said drug courts often believe in individuals when virtually no one else does. The governor said that through treatment, one-time drug offenders can turn their lives around and ensure that “tomorrow is better than yesterday.”

Prosecutor Knapp explained how stressing treatment over incarceration is practiced in Morris County. He talked about the launch of a new program, Narcan 2.0., on Thursday that is designed to give opiate addicted persons a second chance. Under a directive by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, law enforcement officers must contact peer recovery specialists whenever they use the drug, Narcan, to reverse an overdose. These specialists will work with hospitals to assist in getting individuals into treatment programs.

The success of the Drug Court program is well-established. Of the 205 individuals taking part in Drug Courts in the Morris and Sussex County Vicinage from February, 2016 to February, 2017, 96 percent of them have tested negative for drug use. Additionally, 83 percent of individuals successfully completing the Drug Court program have remained free from drugs after three years and 92 percent are employed upon graduation. Moreover, the re-conviction rate for new indictable crimes for these individuals is only four percent.

Prosecutor Knapp said, “Drug Courts and the Narcan 2.0 program are ways Morris County is working to save lives by truly giving individuals a second chance.”

For more information, contact Public Information Officer Fred Snowflack at (973) 829-8159 or [email protected]