New Jersey will expand its well-regarded Drug Courts program with a $2.5 million initiative to send more people convicted of non-violent, drug-related offenses to rehab rather than jail.
Gov. Chris Christie made the announcement Thursday at the Rescue Mission of Trenton, reiterating his commitment to deal with addiction as a disease.
“The underlying cause of many crimes in our society is in many cases drug-addiction or addiction-motivated behavior and for too long our criminal justice system has left it unaddressed," said the governor, whose initiative calls for mandating treatment for certain offenders statewide.
A former federal prosecutor, Christie also served on the board of an addiction treatment center in North Jersey. He notes that treatment for low-level offenders is both more humane and less expensive than incarceration; people who get treatment are far less likely to commit new crimes than those who are simply sent to a cell.
But it's a good start.
A good first step.