No repeat offenders: How Monmouth County is helping addicts avoid jail
Drug offense, arrest. Drug offense, arrest. Drug offense, arrest. And repeat.
Officials in Monmouth County are attempting to break this vicious cycle. An initiative in place for the past several months, they say, has been a "rousing success" in reducing the rate of repeat offenders, while getting individuals the substance abuse treatment they need, and freeing up time and resources for officers.
Created by the county Prosecutor's office, the Cuffs to Beds Opioid Diversion Program gives certain drug offenders a chance to accept treatment and avoid the criminal justice system. A successful attempt at kicking their habit could result in downgraded or dropped charges.
Through the program, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said, officers responding to a drug-related call — many times an overdose reversal — can immediately inject a recovery specialist into the situation.
"These recovery specialist teams are really successful at trying to convince that person to seek the necessary treatment," Gramiccioni said.
About 65 percent of those reached under the program since Fall 2016 have accepted some form of treatment, Gramiccioni said.
"Sixty-five percent — I'll take the double instead of the home run every time," he said. "Because what were we doing before, right?"
Ten of the county's 40-plus police departments have signed on to the program. Of the 100 or so individuals assisted through the program in Belmar, Gramiccioni said, not one has been arrested again since.
"As other departments see the success of these 10 that are doing this, they're going to come on board too," Gramiccion said.
The Sheriff's Office came aboard about four months ago, giving detained individuals a second chance to accept treatment if they refuse it initially.
Sheriff Shaun Golden said more than 800 individuals have been interviewed at the correctional institution upon discharge, and over 300 agreed to enroll in treatment.
Monmouth County's seen 150 overdose deaths so far in 2018. The grand total was 151 in all of 2017. First responders have deployed Naloxone, the opioid-reversal drug, more than 360 times sine the start of the year.