Williamsburg NY Seeing Rise in Heroin Use and Abuse

Heroin is making a comeback across the country and as it does, a subculture of addicts and self-proclaimed “gutter punks” is moving into the Williamsburg community.

This article from the New York Times points out residents in the “trendy Brooklyn community” are not too happy about their new neighbors. Empty lots and vacated developments have become home to groups of squatters that make their money panhandling in the city during the day and partying at night. Continue reading “Williamsburg NY Seeing Rise in Heroin Use and Abuse”

NY Drug Laws: Big Changes Ahead

A few months ago we posted an entry about how the N.Y. Criminal Sentencing Commission came up with nothing remarkable in their analysis of the archaic Rockefeller Drug Laws. Their input, it seemed, would do little to change the laws on the books. Now, however, things are looking quite different.

Last week, according to this report from the Washington Post, New York Governor David A. Patterson and leaders in the state legislature came to agreement that changes must be made to the disaster that has become New York drug policy. Sweeping changes are expected over the next year, making treatment more widely available and prison time a slim chance for non-violent and particularly first-time drug offenders.

Currently, New York has some of the harshest drug laws in the nation, often putting non-violent drug addicted offenders away for lengthy sentences that only contribute to recidivism. Now, however, states across the country realize the importance of treatment and rehabilitation if we are to keep drug offenders clean and out of trouble on a long term basis. Continue reading “NY Drug Laws: Big Changes Ahead”

Drug Courts in New York Helping to Treat, not Punish

A new and successful model of criminal justice uses drug courts in New York and across the county. These courts are said to be responsible for a reduction of re-offenders of up to 26% in New York State.

Drug courts are a separate criminal process that focuses on close monitoring and treatment of drug addiction. In exchange for reduced criminal penalties and avoiding jail time, offenders agree to regular drug testing, and monitoring of attendance at narcotics anonymous and other more formal drug addition treatment programs.

It is an idea that is rapidly expanding nationwide, because it is cheaper than traditional criminal court, jails, and probation systems, and it works. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, up to 70,000 people are currently in drug courts nationwide.

One of the possible downsides to a drug court is that in order to be accepted into a drug program, you must essentially admit to the charges. According to many criminal defense lawyers, this can result in much more serious penalties if a person fails the program and is kicked out. Without the drug courts, the evidence would be questioned and attacked, and penalties agreed to in a plea bargain would likely be less. When that happens the defendant has essentially conceded all the facts in evidence against him, and faces the full wrath of the court, whatever that may consist of. This happens in the up to 40% of participants that drop out of the program.

Other criticisms of the programs conclude that they are more complicated then they need to be, and that the key is requiring and enforcing abstaining from drug use, which can be managed by a less intensive, and cheaper program with less overhead.

Whatever the criticisms and problems, it is clear that the attempt to treat drug addition and avoid addicts being sent to jail so frequently is most often a good deal for the defendants and for society.

If you are charged with drug possession in New York state, please contact our attorneys to find out if you may be eligible for a New York drug court program. The case evaluation is free.