NEW YORK — New York has launched two specialized courts dedicated to misdemeanor drug offenders — especially opioid abusers — who are at a high risk of overdose.
Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks and Bronx County District Attorney Darcel D. Clark on Monday announced the Overdose Avoidance and Recovery program, known as OAR.
The voluntary program offers intensive treatment instead of jail and links participants to job training, housing and other services to help them get back on track.
Eligible offenders who complete the program will have their cases dismissed and sealed.
The program “is an innovative tool for confronting a scourge that has ravaged the Bronx far too long and ruined hundreds of lives,” Clark said. “Last year, our borough had the second highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the state. My office has a duty to stem this health crisis by addressing defendants who cycle through the criminal justice system because of crimes fueled by drug abuse.”
“OAR is an opportunity for people struggling with substance abuse to voluntarily obtain individualized treatment without the stigma of conviction or the hurdle created when unnecessarily jailed for a low-level offense,” said Peter Jones, attorney-in-charge of The Legal Aid Society’s Bronx Criminal Defense Practice. “This creates a meaningful chance for someone to seek help and, if successful, return and contribute to their community.”