NEWARK – Gov. Chris Christie today granted clemency to a woman who battled and overcame drug addiction, effectively wiping out her criminal record.
Joyce Holman, 59, of Piscataway, became involved with drugs at age 16 and battled addictions for 26 years, was charged with shoplifting, wrote bad checks, and committed various felonies and other non-violent crimes ” just to support her addiction.”
Christie, who has long been a proponent of drug courts to help non-violent drug offenders seek treatment, said today that “No life is disposable…everyone deserves a second chance.”
He said finding nonviolent alternatives helps keep the prison population low, and helps to reverse the trend of warehousing inmates instead of rehabilitating them.
“It’s about increasing hope,” he said. “I know we could do more.”
Holman applied for clemency and Christie gave her the pardon upon reading of her case. After beating her addiction in May 1995, she received her GED and went on to receive an associate’s degree in radiology.
“I read many applications,” Christie said. “If clemency is available for anyone… it was made for someone who has Joyce’s story.”
Holman, who stood before her family, many of whom teared up, was grateful to the governor.
“He didn’t have to pick me,” she said. “God always comes through. He always has the last word.”
Christie said such fresh starts are needed in order for them to become employable, and be good parents.
“She’s working every day,” Christie said, adding jokingly, “she’s paying me income taxes.”