ASK THE DA: Alternative to jail yields success

I recently read about a drug diversion program graduation ceremony that you held and would like to know more about this alternative to incarceration program.

                In 1990, I launched the Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison (DTAP) Program.  The purpose of this program is to divert substance abusing, repeat felony offenders away from prison and into treatment.

                  Public safety is always the priority and offenders with a history of violence are not eligible for the program. Incarceration is appropriate for violent drug dealers who exploit addicted individuals, recruit youngsters and terrorize neighborhoods. My office prosecutes those drug dealers vigorously to ensure that they get the prison sentences they deserve.

                The first step for entering the DTAP Program is that qualified defendants must first plead guilty. The next step is participation in a residential drug treatment program for 18 to 24 months instead of imprisonment. If the program is successfully completed the criminal charges are dismissed, whereas those who fail are sentenced to prison.

                Since its inception, there have been 3,070 defendants accepted into the program, 275 of which are still in treatment, and 1,408 have successfully completed and have had their cases dismissed. Eighty-nine percent of DTAP’s graduates who are able to work are employed. Diversion to DTAP has resulted in economic benefits of $56.9 million dollars for those who have graduated from the program.

This year, I honored 65 graduates at a ceremony at Borough Hall. I am very proud of all of them for the commitment they have made to turn their lives around.

One DTAP graduate said it best:  “I am now a law-abiding, tax-paying asset to our country.”  Congratulations and good luck to all of the graduates.

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