2016 – S.6322 / A.9104-A

2016 – S.6322 / A.9104-A

Position Statement

S.6322 / A.9104-A
Drug Diversion Programs


The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) supports bill S.6322-A (Ranzenhofer) / A.9104-A (Gunther) that authorizes local alcohol and substance abuse treatment in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction in which a defendant is prosecuted. In 2009, New York State passed the Rockefeller Drug Law Reform eliminating mandatory jail sentences for most felony drug offenders. The 2009 reform law created substance abuse treatment programs known as judicial diversions programs. Defendants who enter programs via judicial diversion and successfully complete the program avoid jail sentences and receive sentences to reduced charges. Those who fail to complete the program receive jail sentences.

It is not uncommon for individuals to be arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to a drug offense in a jurisdiction where they do not reside. However, the current law requires defendants participating in judicial diversion programs to attend the program in the jurisdiction where they were prosecuted. This geographical mandate creates obstacles for some increasing the likelihood that they will not successfully complete the program simply because of logistics and transportation issues.

Judicial diversion programs operate in every county. Bill S.6322-A / A.9104-A permits defendants who are participating in a program to attend a program where they reside, rather than where they were prosecuted. This common sense legislation removes unnecessary obstacles to program completion for those with substance abuse issues. The content of a judicial diversion program is not dependent on its geographical location. There is no nexus between the rehabilitation program and the site of the drug offense. Accordingly, there is no reason for the law to require defendant participants to travel to the jurisdiction of conviction. This current requirement is burdensome without serving a clear purpose.

WBASNY, with over 4, 2000 members, advocates for the equal and fair administration of justice and therefore, supports and urges the passage of this common sense legislation.

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