Chris Christie and Mike Tyson Discuss Crime, Punishment and Pardons

Tyson (left) and Christie at an April 13, 2017 event in Jersey City. Alyana Alfaro for Observer

JERSEY CITY – Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson wants President Trump to pardon him for a 1992 rape conviction. And he wants Gov. Chris Christie to deliver the message.

During a Thursday event focused on prisoner re-entry efforts, where Christie was honored for fostering drug addiction treatment programs for inmates, the governor and Tyson sat side-by-side to discussing ways to reduce recidivism. At some point Tyson mentioned that Trump once promised him a pardon, and he asked Christie to plead his case with the president now that the governor is an informal Trump adviser and chair of a White House task force on opiate abuse.

“Man, governor I wish you could talk to Donald Trump, cause I haven’t talked to him in many years,” Tyson said. “Tell him he said he was going to give me my pardon so I am waiting for my pardon. He said it out of his mouth so I’m waiting.”

“I will put it on my list for the next phone call, Mike,” Christie quipped.

The annual Prisoner Re-entry Conference hosted by former Gov. Jim McGreevey gave both Christie and Tyson the opportunity to discuss ways they reintegrate former inmates into society once they finish their sentences. It has been a popular cause for politicians including Christie, McGreevey, Sen. Sandra Cunningham and also one of the top issues for former U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. A large portion of the program focused on the legal challenges surrounding expungement of criminal records. According to Christie, there are a number of drug-related offenses that formerly incarcerated individuals should be able to expunge from their records. Christie also said that prison must focus on rehabilitation efforts, especially for drug-related sentences.

“Incarceration is in part about protecting the public … but if that is all incarceration is about we are missing it,” Christie said.

As he approaches the end of his final term as governor, Christie’s administration has become increasingly focused on addiction and recovery efforts. In January, the governor launched a series of ads promoting drug addiction treatment. This week, he reopened a state prison as a drug treatment facility for inmates.

At Thursday’s event, Christie was named the “World Reentry Champion” and awarded a championship belt by Tyson.

Chris Christie and Mike Tyson Discuss Crime, Punishment and Pardons