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Governor Christie: Joyce's Story Is The Reason I Believe No Life Is Disposable

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Published on Dec 21, 2012

Clemency Press Conference In Newark, 12-21-2012
(Transcript Below)

"...I've said over and over again since I've been governor that no life is disposable and that everyone deserves a second chance. We have to institute policies at the state and local level that brings life to those words and that's what we've been trying to do over the last three years. I've seen firsthand what you can do when you give troubled, non violent people, legitimate second chances to turn things around with treatment, with support... New Jersey has been widely recognized as a national leader in reducing the incidents of recidivism and reduced its prison population and I'm proud of that because reducing your prison population is not about reducing your budget, it's about increasing hope in your society and ending the revolving door of people going in and out of prison. ...Last year, I called for an expansion of New Jersey's drug court program and for participation to be made mandatory so the judge court order it as a sentence rather than merely warehousing people in prison where they don't get the treatment for the underlying addiction that they have and if they don't get that treatment and begin to conquer that addiction, they cannot be successful in the outside world. I'm proud to say we secured that expansion. I signed it into law and it's funded now in my budget this year and will be funded more in the fiscal year '14 budget. We've strengthened our commitment to turn around lives and to provide support to deal with the underlying causes of this criminal conduct and stop thinking that warehousing people with an addiction is going to make them better. It doesn't make them better and it doesn't make us better either.

... With us here to my right is Joyce Holman. She's the other reason I'm here today to tell her story and speak to the people of our state about the kind of example she is. Now I know better than anyone to give away her age but I can tell you that Joyce moved to Plainfield, New Jersey from Virginia at a very young age. Apart from a troubled upbringing, Joyce suffered from some low self esteem and at 16 she was introduced to drugs. She fell prey to drug abuse for 26 years during which time she was convicted of two felonies, several municipal charges to feed her addiction... No violent crimes, crimes just to support her addiction. During this period Joyce had children and grandchildren, it's a heartbreaking situation many of us have seen, a central figure of our families who suffered from alcohol or drug abuse. After that string of criminality laded her back in prison for what would be thankfully the final time, she said she asked herself, how did you get back here again? You have grandchildren. That was her moment of clarity. She left incarceration in May of 1995 and she never looked back. After nearly three decades of drug abuse and multiple convictions, Joyce has now been clean and sober for nearly 20 years. She got her GED a month after being released and her associate's degree before training to be a radiologist. She has been at her current job in the radiology field for the past 8 years. Today Joyce is also assisting others in overcoming their addiction. She's deeply involved with her church community with the youth and music ministries and is the chair of the over comer's ministry which she helped establish a year ago to assist people in overcoming any type of struggles that they're having in their lives from day to day. I hear stories like Joyce's and I thought to myself and know in my heart that there are so many more people who can share in her life changing success, that same kind of redemption if only they had a little help along the way to get over the first hurdle of denial and despair. Joyce's story is the reason why I believe what I do, no life is disposable. And that if your criminality has been non-violent, you aren't a threat to society, you deserve a second chance to make things right in your life and improve the lives of your family and our society. Joyce Holman is that example. And it's for that reason today in the room that we were back with the pastor, I signed a full and complete pardon and order of clemency for Joyce. This is not just as a symbol of life that's been redeemed and reclaimed and continues to be redeemed and reclaimed every day, but to send a broader message of the example that Joyce sets for our society and what is possible for those who follow that path. I want to thank Joyce for being a beacon in our state and a direct influence on the lives of so many people in her community... I want to thank her for applying for clemency and getting her story to me. And I told her that when I had the opportunity, I read many of these applications, she touched my heart and also on the merits if clemency is available for anyone, it was made for someone who has Joyce's story. ...let me introduce the star of the show, a woman who as she stands here today no longer has a criminal record."

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