Christie's common sense

Chris Christie, whom few would call a coddler of criminals, has authorized expansion of drug courts and mandatory addiction treatment in New Jersey.

The goal is to funnel low-level offenders who are also addicts into rehab, rather than jail. Treatment  is cheaper than incarceration; it also can work, particularly for those who are highly motivated.

"What we're dealing an illness that needs to be treated as such," Christie told an audience during the bill-signing ceremony at the Rescue Mission of Trenton, where many clients -- like many state and county inmates -- are addicts, alcoholics or both.

The bi-partisan legislation will implement a pilot program in three counties, including one in South Jersey. It will cost $2.5 million and is expected to handle 1,500 offenders in its first year.

"I truly firmly believe that this extraordinarily successful in terms of the numbers," Christie said, adding, "but I also believe that even if it (is) successful only once, we could claim success because every life is precious."

Good work, governor.


Photo: Robert Sciarrino, The Star-Ledger