NJ Hosts Rival Drug-Offender Treatment Plans
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has recently been advocating that non-violent drug offenders get mandatory treatment, rather than jail time. Now another, similar proposal, championed by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D.), is moving through the state legislature. Lesniak—in a riposte to the old joke that a Republican is a Democrat who’s been mugged—actually came to believe in treatment instead of jail time after suffering a home invasion at the hands of two men in 2009. He realized then that it made no sense for his attackers to be sentenced to jail without getting treatment for their addiction—and testified to that effect at the trials of both men, one of whom did end up being remanded to treatment, rather than prison. The bill now proceeding through the state senate differs from Christie’s in a couple key points, most notably scale and roll-out. The governor’s proposal would make treatment mandatory for all non-violent drug offenders in New Jersey, while Lesniak’s bill is more cautious and less costly: it would introduce a pilot program in two counties, while allowing a larger number of offenders statewide to volunteer to participate. “We don't know that mandatory treatment is effective," Lesniak tells the Associated Press. He adds: “We don't want to deny someone who volunteers for treatment because someone else was forced into treatment.”