The Rockland County Drug Court was established in 1998 as an alternative to traditional sentencing for certain drug offenders. The specialized court seeks to connect low-level criminal defendants suffering from substance abuse to treatment services in the community in order to enhance public safety, reduce recidivism and to find appropriate dispositions to the criminal charges that take into consideration the individual's drug and/or alcohol abuse, mental and physical health and the seriousness of the offense.
Eligible defendants enter a plea, sign a contract accepting admittance to the program and make regularly scheduled court appearances. These status hearings are for the purpose of promoting the treatment and rehabilitation of the defendant. The Drug Court Team works closely with the defendant by monitoring program compliance.
If a defendant does not or cannot comply with requirements of the treatment program plan and discontinue the use of drugs or alcohol, participation in the program is terminated. The defendant is returned to custody and criminal proceedings are resumed.
Defendants, who establish a consistent pattern of clean drug tests, employment or enrollment in vocational or educational programs, and other proof of a stabilized lifestyle, graduate from the program. All criminal charges are dismissed.
The treatment court program is designed for nonviolent, drug-using offenders. The court excludes offenders charged with violent offenses, sex crimes, manufacturing illegal substances and other serious offenses.
In April 2012, the Zugibe Administration launched a Misdemeanor Drug Court in the Village of Spring Valley. Following a criminal background check and a substance abuse assessment, select offenders may plead into the Misdemeanor Drug Court.
The Drug Courts generate savings and cost avoidance in reduced jail/prison use, reduced criminality and lower criminal justice costs.
In addition to the economic and legal benefits, the programs are designed so that participants can acquire the tools necessary to live a clean and sober lifestyle.