ORANGETOWN, N.Y. -- For almost 20 years, the Rockland County Misdemeanor Drug Court program has offered first-time, non-violent drug offenders an alternative for going to jail.
Orangetown Judge Pat Loftus, also presiding judge in Rockland County Misdemeanor Court, talked recently about benefits of the program that allows individuals to enter a drug recovery program instead.
Loftus explained that the Drug Court program also requires participants to complete community service, and is far from being a "free ride."
"It has been successful putting people back in the community who are no longer recidivous because they are in recovery. The objective is to find non-violent addicts," Loftus said.
"It's not that they're getting a free ride. They're not. They're actually having to plead guilty to crimes and if they fail to comply they would be sentenced. Under the old system, they would come out (of jail) still addicted. There's an incentive to successfully complete the program," Loftus said.
Loftus's background is in criminal law: he is partner of the law firm Freeman & Loftus, a former senior assistant District Attorney in Rockland County and former Lead Prosecutor of the Rockland County Narcotics Task Force. And he is running for Rockland County Court Justice.
While running for judge is a heady "all consuming" process, he said, he's ready to return to his roots.
"It's a job I've been planning for, for quite some time."