Christie mixes get-tough message for violent offenders with more targeted drug treatment proposal

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie today made crime reduction a part of his State of the State address, urging legislators to help him keep New Jersey’s most violent criminals off the streets.

“I ask you to approve my bail reform package, which would mirror the federal system,” said Christie, revisiting territory he traversed earlier in his tenure during a well publicized brawl with Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15). “It would keep offenders with a history of violence who are a danger to our communities in jail until the time of their trial, instead of releasing them into society to prey on the public.

Christie acknowledged his plan might require a constitutional amendment.

“But it is reform that is long overdue,” said the Governor. “Do you know that if a person is arrested with a long record of violence we cannot detain that person in jail pending trial?  We must release that person, regardless of how dangerous they are to potential witnesses against them or innocent members of our society.  Let us amend our bail laws to allow judges to consider the factor of dangerousness to our communities before we release a violent person back on to the street to maim or kill while they await trial.  This, too, is just simple common sense.”

Christie called on lawmakers to back programs investing time and money in drug treatment – in an in-house, secure facility – rather than prison time for drug ofenders. 

“Experience has shown that treating non-violent drug offenders is two-thirds less expensive than housing them in prison,” said the Governor. “And more importantly – as long as they have not violently victimized society – everyone deserves a second chance, because no life is disposable.

“I am not satisfied to have this as merely a pilot project; I am calling for a transformation of the way we deal with drug abuse and incarceration in every corner of New Jersey,” he added. “I propose mandatory treatment for every non-violent offender with a drug abuse problem in New Jersey, not just a select few.  It will send a clear message to those who have fallen victim to the disease of drug abuse – we want to help you, not throw you away.  We will require you to get treatment. Your life has value.”

Christie mixes get-tough message for violent offenders with more targeted drug treatment proposal