With Attorney General Jeff Chiesa looking on, Gov. Chris Christie laid out an ambitious plan to get all nonviolent offenders with drug problems into treatment, a plan that would greatly expand the state’s drug court program to all 21 counties.
“This is a disease and a treatable disease and one that we should take the time and spend the money to try to treat because in the long run it will help us financially,” said Christie. “But that’s not the only reason to do it. It’ll also help us because it’ll make us a better society. It’ll reclaim families.”
For critics who may say the proposal is soft on crime, Christie, a former U.S Attorney, says he is eager to take on that accusation.
The announcement took place at the Rescue Mission of Trenton which has a drug treatment program sometimes used by the criminal justice system
The Rescue Mission’s Executive Director Mary Gay Abbott Young calls the plan the most major public policy change that she’s seen in her 30 some years of working in the field of addictions.
If carried out the right way, the governor says the plan would be “one of the lasting legacies” of his administration.
“Budgets come and go, taxes go up and down but saving lives — that lasts forever,” said Christie.
The governor says it will take a year after legislation passes to get these drug court changes up and running. In the meantime, he’ll make drug treatment available immediately to the 1,000 to 1,500 addicts currently in state prisons.
Reporting from Trenton, Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron has this story.