Union County Inmate Drug Addiction and Alternative Sentences for Addicted Criminal Offenders


Drug overdose deaths are climbing at an alarming rate in New Jersey. There were 2,221 drug-related deaths in the state in 2016. In 2019, over 3,118 New Jersey residents died from overdoses. 150 of those deaths occurred in Union County, up from 98 deaths in the county two years prior. A number of Union County inmates, including inmates in Elizabeth, suffer from drug addiction. The county’s Freeholder Board has redoubled its efforts in recent weeks to combat drug addiction, and particularly opioid addiction, in the county and its jails, focusing in part on the County Department of Corrections’ drug re-entry program. The following explains some of the treatment methods being employment in connection with the drug re-entry program and examines the Drug Court Program as an attractive alternative to being sentenced to jail when you commit a crime in Union County, New Jersey and are coping with drug addiction. If you or a loved one has been charged with a non-violent offense and have a substance abuse disorder, it is crucial that you speak with a qualified Union County criminal defense attorney experienced in the area of drug crimes. You may have several viable options to avoid jail, for instance, Drug Court can be a fantastic outcome for many people. Our criminal defense lawyers have helped numerous clients gain admission into Drug Court when they thought perhaps there was no way out. If you would like to discuss your case with a member of our team, call (908) 838-0150 for a free initial consultation.

Union County’s Inmate Drug Addiction Treatment Measures

Union County’s Freeholder Board recently approved the purchase of a drug called Vivitrol to help drug-addicted inmates housed at the Union County Jail in Elizabeth. Vivitrol can reduce opioid depending by blocking certain receptors in the brain to prevent inmates from experiencing a “high” feeling from certain drugs. It is administered through a non-habit-forming monthly injection that proponents claim can reduce relapses. The county also makes the popular treatment drugs Suboxone and Narcan available to combat opioid addiction. The director of the County Department of Corrections stated that sixteen individuals enrolled in the department’s drug re-entry program in particular may benefit from these drugs.

Alternative Sentencing Options for Union County Criminal Charges

There are several alternative sentencing options for certain criminal defendants in Union County, one of which is the Drug Court Program. New Jersey’s Drug Court Program could be described as a specialized grant of probation made available to individuals who meet certain criteria, particularly those individuals whose crimes were motivated by drug or alcohol addiction. Drug Court offers an alternative to traditional criminal prosecution, and it is designed to break the vicious cycle of substance abuse leading to repeated criminal re-offense.

Individuals who qualify for Drug Court are offered supervised probation with rigorous terms designed to help them recover from their addiction. A person entering the program must enter a guilty plea, in exchange for which they receive a term of probation that requires them to complete the Drug Court treatment program. If they do not complete the treatment program, they risk serving out their term in prison. That said, if the individual completes the treatment program, they are immediately eligible for criminal record expungement.

To be eligible for Drug Court, a person must be eighteen years or older, they must suffer from a substance abuse disorder, and they must not have been charged with a violent crime or have certain types of violent criminal records. If a person meets these criteria and gains acceptance into the Drug Court program, they will likely need to make periodic appearances in court, submit to drug testing at random, enroll in detox or a residential treatment programs if needed, comply with outpatient treatment regimens, attending counseling, twelve-step programs, complete community service, and/or submit to additional terms of probation and monitoring as imposed by the court.

If you are in need of a criminal defense lawyer who frequently handles drug charges in Union County, New Jersey, contact us today.

Additional Information:

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.