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 with...is 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 will...be 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