New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently announced that he will be running for President of the United States. Christie’s platform includes a plan to overhaul the country’s criminal justice system in the same way that he has changed the NJ criminal justice system.
Nonviolent Drug Offenders in New Jersey
Studies have shown that the recidivism rate for drug offenders in New Jersey is extremely high. This is particularly problematic when it comes to individuals who have been convicted of nonviolent offenses. One of Christie’s major emphases as governor has been on making it easier for nonviolent drug offenders to avoid being sucked into a lifelong cycle of crime. In Christie’s view, drug addicts need to get help for their addictions, not be thrown in jail for low-level offenses like possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin or prescription drugs.
As governor, Christie has called for the government to “stop waging the war against the people who need our help the most.” In his 2015 State of the State address, Christie powerfully noted that “drug treatment is the path to saving lives.”
One of Christie’s most significant accomplishments thus far has been to institute drug courts that allow drug-addicted defendants to avoid prison so long as they are first-time offenders and are able to successfully complete a drug treatment program. The program requires participants to undergo mandatory inpatient drug treatment so that they can kick their addictions for good.
If he is elected President, Christie plans to push for “mandatory drug courts across the country, including in all 94 federal districts,” because the federal government’s current policy of supporting mandatory sentencing guidelines for drug offenders has not solved the problem of drug addiction. As Christie put it, “With 23 million folks addicted, it’s not working.” For Christie, the solution is clear: replace mandatory jail time with mandatory drug courts and drug treatment programs.
Asking about Prior Criminal Records on Employment Applications
Christie has also tried to make it easier for other nonviolent offenders to get their lives back on track after they have served their sentences. In 2014, he signed off on the “Opportunity to Compete Act,” legislation that prohibited potential employers from asking job applicants about prior criminal convictions. As a result, any company with 15 or more employees cannot inquire about an applicant’s criminal record. (However, employers are still allowed to perform a criminal background check on applicants.)
Camden NJ as a Model for Fighting Crime
Christie recently visited Camden, NJ, which he held up as a model for how the criminal justice system ought to run at both a local and national level. Christie said that Camden legislators have shown state politicians how to effectively deal with economic struggles and a high crime rate.
One of the major reasons for the lower crime rate in Camden in the past few years is that the city’s police department was replaced by a county police department – a plan that Christie signed off on. Christie attributed the success of the new police department to better relations between police officers and the local community because the county police force is more willing to interact with citizens.
If you have been charged with a crime, whether it’s a drug crime, weapons offense or any other criminal act, you need to make sure that your first call is to an experienced attorney who can help you avoid jail time. John W. Tumelty is an Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer with prosecutorial experience, so he knows how to successfully defend you against drug possession and distribution charges in New Jersey. Call him today for a free consultation about your case.