New Jersey Bill To Help Drug Users Recover Without Serving Time
A new bill may allow New Jersey drug users who suffer from addiction to turn in their drugs and ask for help – without the threat of jail time. Upon approval, the law would permit local law enforcement to develop programs that would allow drug users to turn in their drug materials without being arrested.
From A3744 in the Assembly and S2330 in the Senate:
“New Jersey’s overdose death rate is currently more than three times the national rate, and overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the state… Increasing access to treatment without fear of arrest or law enforcement action is essential to persuade those who suffer from addiction to receive the treatment they need… ”
“The establishment of law enforcement assisted addiction and recovery programs would provide additional support necessary to assist many of those who need treatment by encouraging those suffering from heroin and opioid addiction to seek recovery; helping to distribute life-saving drugs to prevent and treat overdoses; and connecting people suffering from heroin and opioid addiction with treatment programs and facilities.”
How Do The Programs Work?
Gloucester, MA, was the first community to embrace this concept, also known as the “ANGEL Program“.
Under this proposed law, persons who possess a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia would not be charged criminally if they surrender these substances to local police departments.
Additionally, officers would not be permitted to question the user about where they got the drugs, or “take any other action which may discourage individuals from seeking to participate in the program without fear of arrest.”
Subsequently, the drug users would then be paired with a volunteer who would provide support and guidance, as well as identify treatment options and a program or facility which could be of assistance in recovery.
This concept of exchanging jail time for treatment has been advocated by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (NJ). He identified himself both a spokesperson for addressing the opioid abuse epidemic, as well as advancing criminal justice reform.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology