By David Madden

LAUREL SPRINGS, N.J. (CBS) — One South Jersey town is taking on a unique approach to dealing with drug-related petty crime.

Drug treatment is routinely offered to those facing a Superior Court judge in New Jersey.  But on the municipal level, that hasn’t been the case until now.

“The absence of such a drug court program in Municipal Court leaves defendants, family members of those suffering from addiction, and even Municipal Court officials with few options regarding treatment or assistance,” notes Gloucester Township police chief Harry Earle.

Now, a private drug advocate will be available at Municipal Court hearings to steer defendants in the direction of treatment, if they want it.

New Jersey’s state courts have not endorsed this program, but officials here expect it to be a model for other towns to adopt.

The goal is to get an addict the help he or she needs before their habit puts them in jail.  Or worse.