Chris Christie: Mandatory Rehab For Criminals

By McCarton Ackerman 03/02/12

The New Jersey governor's proposals would shift the focus from punishment to mandatory treatment.

chris christie.jpg
Chris Christie hopes to reduce reconviction
rates through treatment.
Photo via

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced yesterday that he hopes to have a mandatory drug treatment program for nonviolent offenders in the state within a year. The treatment is an expansion of Christie's successful Drug Court program, which he says has only reached a fraction of non-violent addicts who may be able to participate—because it's currently voluntary. Legislative components include better identification of eligible drug-addicted non-violent offenders and court-ordered clinical assessments to determine suitability for drug court. The proposed budget allocates $2.5 million to the program; the inpatient treatment is projected to cost half what it does to house inmates in the state prison system. "In the long run, it will help us financially," said Christie. "No question as a state it will help us, but that's not the only reason to do it. It will also help us because it will make us a better society. It will reclaim families." An October 2010 Drug Court report showed that 16% of drug court graduates are re-arrested and 8% are reconvicted—compared to a re-arrest rate of 54% and a reconviction rate of 43% for drug offenders released from prison. According to Republican State Senator Christopher "Kip" Bateman, it costs about $343 million a year to house the state’s 7,000 nonviolent drug offenders.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.