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Governor Christie: Saving Lives Is What This Is Really About For Me

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Published on Jul 19, 2012

Drug Court Bill Signing Press Conference. July 19, 2012 (Transcript Below)

Governor Christie: All across New Jersey we have people who get addicted to drugs every day, regardless of socioeconomic status, regardless of where they live, regardless of their educational level, any of the other indicators that seem to indicate certain types of behavior, drug abuse covers all of them, and then folks get involved in crime as a result. When they get involved in crime, we've sent them to jail and we've sent them to jail for serious periods of time, and for many of them when they do in with an addiction, they get drugs smuggled into the prison despite of our best efforts to prevent it, and they come out of prison addicted, and then we wonder why they're going back again. Of course, they're addicted, they come out, they commit more crimes in an attempt to support their addiction.

This program, phased in over the next five years, to cover our entire state, so we can make sure we do it the right way, will ensure that people have an opportunity to break that cycle—and notice what I've said here: that they'll have an opportunity to break the cycle. We can't do it for them. All we can do is give them the opportunity to do it for themselves, one day at a time, and right now that opportunity is not being afforded to everyone in New Jersey who has this problem, and after today, we're going to begin to move down the road of dealing with nonviolent drug offenses in a much different way than has been dealt with in the past.

And so I look forward to working with the Attorney General and with Commissioner Velez and with Judge Grant and the members of the Legislature to make sure that this program is fully funded and effectively implemented, and I believe we can do that over the course of the next five years and we will be saving lives, and that's what this is really all about for me. I sat on the board of Daytop Village for five years, from 1997 to the end of 2001 when I became United States Attorney, and I watched miracles happen every day, miracles. People who came in addicted to heroin, addicted to PCP, addicted to cocaine, arrested numerous times, their lives absolutely in shambles, and then watched over the period of a year those people reclaim their lives, become productive members of society again. Those are the things that we need to try to happen on a much broader scale, and I'm a believer in this because I've seen it happen. I can give testimony to it. I watched it help lots of young people over the five years that I was associated with Daytop and I hope that we're going to see the same type of results over the next number of years here in New Jersey, across a broad spectrum of folks who will be able to provide those services to the people who desperately need them and I think it's a much better place for them to spend their time, a much more productive place to spend their time, than to be sitting away in a prison cell, not being given the tools to deal with their addiction, not being given the tools to get a job when they get out, not being given the tools to deal with the pressures that civilized society will place on them when they return. Let's try to stop that cycle up front. If we can do that we will be doing something really, really extraordinary.

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