NJ Governor Chris Christie goes against the War on Drugs in his State of the State address:
At the same time, let us reclaim the lives of those drug offenders who have not committed a violent crime. By investing time and money in drug treatment – in an in-house, secure facility – rather than putting them in prison.
Experience has shown that treating non-violent drug offenders is two-thirds less expensive than housing them in prison. And more importantly – as long as they have not violently victimized society – everyone deserves a second chance, because no life is disposable.
I am not satisfied to have this as merely a pilot project; I am calling for a transformation of the way we deal with drug abuse and incarceration in every corner of New Jersey.
So today I ask this Legislature and the Chief Justice to join me in this commitment that no life is disposable.
I propose mandatory treatment for every non-violent offender with a drug abuse problem in New Jersey, not just a select few. It will send a clear message to those who have fallen victim to the disease of drug abuse – we want to help you, not throw you away. We will require you to get treatment. Your life has value. Every one of God’s creations can be redeemed. Everyone deserves a second chance.
This is especially refreshing because, via Andrew Sullivan, of Salam Reihan’s point:
Christie evidently doesn’t believe that taking this stand will limit his political future. He is demonstrating that his brand of conservatism can form the foundation of a coalition that captures centrist voters even in a heavily urban, diverse northeastern state. This is part of why I understand and accept why Christie chose not to run for president this cycle: he had much more to do in New Jersey, and building a solid foundation there could be a great help if he does indeed pursue a national career.