Chris Christie now backs treatment—not jail—for non-violent drug offenders.
NJ Gov. Chris Christie at a similar town-hall event in 2012
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie departed somewhat from the Republican party line on drugs today when he proposed that the state stop “warehousing” individuals who've been jailed for non-violent drug offenses. He's quoted saying, “Let’s get people out of the regular jails and put them for a year in secure facilities where they can actually get drug treatment. We need to teach people how to deal with their addictions, and not have them dependent on drugs.” His comments echo his State of the State address on Tuesday [below]. After calling for a “get-tough-on-crime” law change to let judges to deny bail to people with a history of violent crime, he added: “At the same time, let us reclaim the lives of those drug offenders who have not committed a violent crime. By investing time and money in drug treatment—in an in-house, secure facility—rather than putting them in prison...treating non-violent drug offenders is two-thirds less expensive than housing them in prison. And more importantly...everyone deserves a second chance.”
Another prominent politician to advocate this approach is President Obama, who said on the campaign trail in September 2007, “When I am President of the United States… We will review these sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the blind and counterproductive warehousing of nonviolent offenders.” A Californian proposition to do just that was defeated by a vote of 60% to 40% in 2008. It remains to be seen whether New Jersey will be more receptive.