MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ -   The months of May and June are filled with graduations. Graduations from kindergarten, from middle school, high school and college, where individuals are commended for successfully completing a program prior to entering another phase of their lives. On Monday, another graduation took place in Morris Township where 13 individuals successfully completed and graduated from Drug Court.

The goal, said Governor Christie in his remarks is to give offenders a chance to reclaim their lives, reunite with their families and friends, and once again become productive members of society. Drug Courts, according to Christie are achieving their goal of offering treatment to offenders with substance use disease instead of imprisoning them.

Christie also honored 15 participants who will commence to the program’s fourth and final phase. The program which includes comprehensive treatment, intensive supervision and strict accountability is not easy. In addition, participants must make regular court appearances, have frequent, random drug testing, attend individual or group counseling and 12-step, self-help groups, and perform community service.

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According to statistics, Morris County has more than 220 active Drug Court participants and Sussex County has 190. Statewide, there are 6,110 people enrolled in Drug Court and since 2002, more than 21,000 individuals have been enrolled throughout New Jersey.  The program also fosters responsibility and personal accountability by utilizing sanctions and incentives, requiring payment of child support and other financial obligations, education, full-time employment, and involvement with self-help and community organizations to support the participant’s recovery after graduating from Drug Court.

In addition to the Governor, numerous court, political and law enforcement officials attended the graduating ceremony, including Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, Superior Court Assignment Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz, Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor, Drug Court Judge James DeMarzo, and Trial Court Administrator Rashad Shabaka-Burns.

“Drug Court is an effective justice intervention that is an alternative to incarceration and supports individuals who are trying to break the cycle of substance abuse,” said Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo. “On behalf of the entire Morris County Board of Freeholders, I applaud you graduates today for your strength, your perseverance, your commitment to recovery, and your desire to start new lives.”

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