Drug offenders released from prison have a re-arrestment rate of 54 percent and are reconvicted 43 percent of the time, according to the Christie administration. That compares with a 16 percent re-arrest rate for drug offenders who voluntarily obtain treatment through the state's Drug Court program, rather than go to jail.
That's why Gov. Chris Christie is recommending that the state expand the program to include all 21 counties and to allow judges to mandatorily sentence a certain population of nonviolent, drug-addicted offenders. Right now, the state's Drug Court program is entirely voluntary and could be sentenced by a judge, regardless of whether offenders apply for admission to program. Currently, the program accepts 1,400 offenders a year. Christie's recommended $2.5 million additional for the program would allow a far greater number of participants. Democrats have applauded his recommendation and are expected to pass the proposed legislation.