BY MICHAEL CAHILL
Aims to thwart addicts’ descent into felonious lifestyle
County of Rockland and Village of Spring Valley officials announced Tuesday at the Spring Valley Courthouse the creation of the Rockland County Misdemeanor Drug Court Program.
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe joined Mayor of Spring Valley Normaie Jasmin, Judge Charles Apotheker, and Judge David Fried for the announcement. Zugibe said he is excited about the start of the court. “This court will help those who suffer from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medication break that cycle and move forward in a positive direction,” he said.
The idea behind the misdemeanor court is to give those low level offenders with substance abuse problems a chance before they reach the felony level. Those accepted to the court will have the opportunity to enter treatment programs instead of facing jail time. To enter the misdemeanor drug court, those interested will have to go through an application and vetting process. The court must decide that their offense is related to substance addiction.
Rockland County already has a drug court in operation, however following a state mandate last year that court is now prioritizing felony cases. The misdemeanor court, although it will be based at the Spring Valley courthouse, it is for available for all county residents.
Those entering the misdemeanor drug court should not expect an easy time though. The court will require the offender to be in court every week and enter an upfront guilty plea. If at any point during the program they are not keeping up with court and council recommendations they could be subject to further sanctions against them or be discharged from the court entirely, which would mean jail time.
Judge David Fried, Spring Valley Justice, will be heading up the court as the presiding judge. “I am confident that this new court will improve lives and fight addition,” said Fried.