Audit finds issues with drug court

TRENTON – An audit examining the state’s drug court program recommended improved fiscal controls, discovered ID numbers that did not match up with a name, and found an overstated graduation rate.

The drug court, which is a program the Christie administration wants to expand as a method of reducing recidivism and easing burdens on crowded prisons, generally operated as it should, according to the report by the office of the N.J. Auditor.

The audit nevertheless found some room for improvement.

*The state found 481 of 4,050 State Bureau of Identification numbers did not match a name in the program roster. Charges to those unmatched numbers totaled $1.4 million in fiscal year 2012, the audit found. The Division of Mental Health reported it will investigate the matter.

*Mental Health Services has contracts with nine providers for 223 beds at a cost of $5.3 million, but records showed these providers had vacant beds costing $300,000 while submitting claims for service.

*Also, the Adult Drug Court Program web site posted graduation rate of 57 percent was overstated and in reality was closer to 35 percent, the audit found.

In response, the Administrative Office of the Courts reported that the graduation rate posting has been removed and the wording now reflects a “cumulative retention rate,’’ to reflect active retained program participants and graduates over a three- to five-year length of the program.

Regarding other claims, the Department of Human Services responded that it has addressed them and put in place improved records tracking systems and will work to ensure that unallowable funds are recouped.

In fiscal year 2012, the program cost about $43 million and as of Oct. 1, 2012 served 4,692 participants, according to the audit. The goal of the program is to take certain non-violent offenders and help them break the cycle of drug-driven crime.

Audit finds issues with drug court