New Jersey may be the most densely populated state in the nation. But it’s also the state with the lowest percentage of the population in prison. The findings, part of an analysis by the New Jersey Department of Corrections, indicate that the number of incarcerated individuals in New Jersey continued to decline over a five-year period. New Jersey has made a concerted effort to divert people from prison through programs and changes in the court and parole systems.
New Jersey diversion efforts
Not only has the prison population been reduced significantly in New Jersey, the crime rate has dropped as well. New Jersey Department of Corrections officials cite several factors for this change, including the state’s mandatory drug court initiatives and its first offender program.
New Jersey mandatory drug court program
New Jersey’s mandatory drug court program, providing an alternative to incarceration, was introduced in 1996. As a result of this program, thousands of nonviolent offenders have been diverted from state prison through recognized, supervised drug treatment programs. Drug courts address non-violent drug crimes and are designed to prevent the abuse of alcohol, drugs, and associated criminal activity.
New Jersey’s first offender program
Like many states, New Jersey offers a first offender program—a chance for first time offenders with no prior criminal record to participate in a rehabilitation program instead of going through the process of standard prosecution of their crime. New Jersey’s program, called the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), is designed to tackle the circumstances and conditions that give rise to the crime, with the intent of ultimately thwarting any future criminal activity on the part of the defendant.
Federal diversion program
Drug offenders who are charged or have been convicted of certain federal drug crimes may be eligible for the federal first offender program if they do not have previous state or federal convictions pertaining to controlled substances. Under the federal first offender program, defendants agree to plead guilty or may have been found guilty, but the judgement of conviction is not formally entered into the public record. Instead, if the defendant successfully completes the terms of probation for one year, the court dismisses the proceedings, the judgement is no longer considered a conviction, and it is not entered into the record. Violation of probation results in the case proceeding with judgement and sentencing.
Facing prison time? Give us a call
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and are facing prison time, let us help. The skilled criminal defense team at Lomurro Law includes eight New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Civil Trial Attorneys, who bring a high level of legal expertise to each case. Talk to us about your situation; contact our office at 732-482-9285 or online to arrange for a confidential consultation. Lomurro Law has offices in Freehold and East Brunswick.