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New Jersey Governor Calls for Mandatory Treatment for Low-Level Drug Offenders

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie this week called for mandatory treatment for all low-level drug offenders. The Wall Street Journal calls it “the most sweeping criminal-justice proposal of his tenure.”

In his State of the State address, Christie said, “”Every one of God’s creations can be redeemed. Everyone deserves a second chance.” He also called for a revision of bail laws to keep violent drug dealers in prison. He said the state’s bail system should mirror the federal courts, where judges decide whether violent offenders should remain in jail while they await trial if they are considered to be a threat to society or a flight risk.

According to the article, drug treatment advocates say the state’s residential drug treatment facilities are already overcrowded. “There are waiting lists of people begging to get into drug treatment. We should fund and expand it for the people who want it,” said Roseanne Scotti, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance in New Jersey.

In 2010, there were 51,985 people admitted into substance-abuse programs in New Jersey, compared with 47,442 in 2008. An estimated 62 percent of New Jersey prison inmates have a moderate to severe drug addiction, the article states.

Christie once served on the board of a Daytop Village treatment program, and his wife volunteers with former convicts, including at drug treatment centers, the newspaper notes.

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