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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bronx judge seeks to expand treatment alternatives

Bronx Judge Laura Safer-Espinoza and the Bronx Treatment Court were profiled today in the New York Times (click here to read the article). She is among a group of judges who support legislation to expand the use of treatment as an alternative to jail for non-violent felony offenders by making more resources available and widening the group of defendants who would be able to get into drug court. Of all problem-solving innovations in the justice system, drug courts (like the one run by Judge Safer-Espinoza) are the most widespread and have received the most recognition for their effectiveness.

In addition to pushing for greater resources to support treatment, the legislation would also give judges more say about who is eligible for drug court - currently that decision is up to the district attorney. It would also widen somewhat those individuals who are eligible, including those who are receiving methadone and those who are facing their second offense, who are currently excluded.

According to another article in the New York Times today, many states throughout the country are responding to budget shortfalls by taking creative steps to reduce their prison populations, reducing sentences, embracing alternatives to incarceration, and taking steps to reduce the number of people who are re-incarcerated for technical violations of parole. To read the article, click here.

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