David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
Date: June 22, 2000
|A National First: New York to Launch Systemic Program of Drug Screening and Court-Mandated Substance Abuse Treatment Statewide|
|NEW YORK - The Unified Court System announces sweeping new
reforms to provide court-mandated substance abuse treatment to nonviolent
drug-addicted offenders throughout the state. These reforms are designed
to address the staggering 400 percent increase over the last two decades
in the number of narcotics cases confronting New York's courts. The court
system's new addiction-focused strategy is based on recommendations of
the Commission on Drugs and the Courts, a statewide panel convened by Chief
Judge Judith S. Kaye to study the courts' handling of drug-related cases
in New York. Today the Commission released an extensive 126-page report
detailing its investigation over the past year.
The new program will make New York's court system the first in the nation to adopt a comprehensive systemic strategy to combat the overwhelming impact of substance abuse on court caseloads. It will include across-the-board drug screening for criminal cases, court-mandated substance abuse treatment for nonviolent defendants and parents charged in Family Court child neglect cases, and the creation of specialized courts that will exclusively target persistent misdemeanor offenders. When the program is fully operational, the court system estimates that it will put nearly 10,000 additional defendants into court-mandated treatment and will generate over $500 million a year in incarceration and long-term taxpayer savings.
The court system's new initiative deals solely with nonviolent substance-abusing defendants (not drug dealers or violent offenders) and features the following key elements:
Chair Robert B. Fiske, Jr., the former U.S. Attorney for New York's Southern District and a partner with the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell, stated, "I am honored to have been able to head this inquiry into such a critical area of public policy and am particularly gratified to know that the Commission's recommendations are being fully adopted by the courts. Cooperation among all sectors of the justice system is essential in such a project, and I encourage the district attorneys, defense bar and treatment community from around the state to work together in this regard. I would like to thank my co-members on the Commission for their dedication and diligence, without which this important endeavor would not have been possible."
Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said, "Under the court's new statewide court-mandated treatment program, the emphasis will be on early intervention - attacking substance abuse issues from the onset of a case, before they tax the resources of the courts and the public. This major new initiative represents a sea change in the courts' handling of drug-related cases and puts New York State at the forefront as a national leader in this critical area of justice. The end result of our efforts will be to reduce recidivism and costs and build a new architecture to tackle the modern-day scourge of drug addiction."
The New York State Commission on Drugs and the Courts was established in October 1999 by Chief Judge Kaye to study how drug cases are handled by the courts and to determine whether changes could be made to more effectively process these cases. It was chaired by Robert B. Fiske, Jr., and consisted of judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, academics, substance abuse experts and agency representatives from across the state. The roster of Commission members is attached.
The Commission's report, "Confronting the Cycle of Addiction and Recidivism," can be accessed from the Unified Court System's website at www.courts.state.ny.us or by calling the UCS Communications Office at (212) 428-2500.
Chair: Robert B. Fiske, Jr.
Hon. John J. Ark
Stanley S. Arkin
Hon. Phylis Skloot Bamberger
Steven R. Belenko, Ph.D.
Bridget G. Brennan
Paul J. Browne
Zachary W. Carter
Hon. Frank J. Clark
Terrence M. Connors
Hon. Janet DiFiore
Hon. Jo Ann Ferdinand
Hon. William J. Fitzpatrick
Michael P. Jacobson
Barry M. Kamins
James M. Kindler
Roderick C. Lankler
Paul S. Miller
Hon. Juanita Bing Newton
Edward J. Nowak
Mitchell S. Rosenthal, M.D.
Hon. Robert T. Russell, Jr.
Hon. Gloria Sosa-Lintner
Anne J. Swern