In June during a single week, authorities across five New Jersey counties including Union County made 177 arrests on drug charges. All 177 people charged were offered alternative treatment programs. The vast majority accepted the offer of assistance to get clean. Of those arrested, 148 were connected to counselors and drug treatment centers as part of “Operation Helping Hand”, a program which is the brainchild of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. Operation Helping Hand is available due to a partnership between prosecutors in Bergen County, Morris County, Passaic County, Sussex County and Union County and seems to be doing exactly what it was intended to do.
The war on drugs has had dramatic and transformative effects across Union County as well as the entire state of New Jersey. Zero tolerance policies have led to an epic number of imprisoned citizens and has resulted in never before seen levels of prison overcrowding. The increase in prisoners housed by the state has caused fiscal strains on all levels of government, from local municipalities in addition to the state budget itself. Faced with this dilemma lawmakers and the judicial system have been exploring ways to reduce the numbers of drug offenders and thus reduce the prison population.
NJ Drug Crime Rehabilitation Policy?
The state has seen an overall decline in those incarcerated from 21,123 in 2013 to 19,619 in 2017. This trend has continued into 2018 representing a reduction in men, women and juveniles in detention and marks a 15% drop.
The most dramatic decrease has been seen in those with drug charges. In 2013 New Jersey incarcerated 2,687 individuals on drug related charges. By 2017 that number had dropped to 1,660 inmates; a 38.2% decrease.
According to Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, “It’s not necessarily one shift that can produce a change of this magnitude”. However he attributed much of the downward trend to the creation of the state’s drug courts that focus on diverting people from prison and into rehabilitation programs designed to decrease recidivism.
The early success of the program has prompted the difficult talk of attempting to take the program statewide. A challenge to be sure, as it will require further partnerships with other county prosecutors across New Jersey.
Heroin Possession and Distribution Lawyer Elizabeth NJ
Despite the success of diversion programs New Jersey remains locked in a heroin epidemic. Deaths due to overdose have risen each of the past four years. This rise is driven primarily by the introduction of a potent new form of heroin called fentanyl. In 2014 fentanyl was found 15% of heroin overdose deaths, by 2017 that number had risen to 65%.
Given the seriousness of heroin, and the harm currently being caused by this epidemic, the drug carries some very strong penalties in New Jersey that include fines that range from $35,000-$500,000 as well as fixed prison terms of up to 25 years before parole.
If one is charged with any heroin related offense it is crucial to obtain experienced and effective counsel immediately. Life changing events are sure to follow. However if the drug is removed from one’s life then these changes would most definitely be for the good.
Contact A Linden Heroin and Drug Offense Attorney Today
With the statewide effort to crackdown on heroin possession, heroin consumption, and heroin distribution, New Jersey prosecutors are taking a hard line on anyone charged with heroin crimes. This can make it extremely difficult to reach any kind of plea bargain, even for third degree offenses, and has the potential to result in a great deal of minor offenders being sent to jail for extended periods of time.
However, The Law Office of Edward S. Cooper is prepared to defend anyone charged with drug-related offenses, including heroin possession and possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. Our firm has extensive experience helping clients across Elizabeth, Union Township, Linden, Westfield, and the greater Union County area to defend themselves from criminal charges of all kinds. Whether you were wrongly arrested and need legal representation, or are seeking to reduce the charges filed against you, we are prepared to thoroughly investigate your case, negotiate with Union County prosecutors, and help ensure that your rights and legal future are properly protected.
To speak with our firm today regarding your criminal charges including marijuana charges, heroin charges, or cocaine charges, and your legal options and rights in these matters, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625.