Governor Chris Christie announced this week that he would like to see drug treatment be mandatory for nonviolent drug offenders that have substance abuse problems. While some are worried that making it mandatory could ruin the treatment experience of those who actually want help, most are applauding the Governor’s plan.
According to the Inquirer, Christie’s plan would take at least a year to get started, but lawmakers in both chambers have already introduced the legislation.
In the meantime, in an effort to help those who are already serving time, Christie wants to offer treatment to 1,000 to 1,500 of those in prison who need help with addiction.
The plan would cost an estimated $2.5 million to implement and would serve as many as 7,000 people annually, in the long run. Currently, it costs $49,000 a year to incarcerate someone, so this move to treatment instead of prison time would ultimately save the state on the front end and possible on the back end by lowering recidivism.
Treatment officials say the $2.5 million initial investment would only pay for an additional 50 beds, treating 200 to 800 people annually. Eventually, they say, it will cost much more.
But finances aren’t the only concern—drug treatment could help many people in ways that money simply doesn’t matter. And right now, many people are being turned away from drug treatment because the facilities simply don’t exist.
If you are charged with a drug crime, there are drug courts in each county now. These courts mandate treatment instead of incarceration. But, if you’re not accused of a crime, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to find any cost-effective drug treatment.
About half of people who qualify to have their cases heard in drug court, turn it down. They simply aren’t ready to get help, for whatever reason. Some are worried that mandating treatment will bring people who aren’t ready for help into contact with those who are and potentially mess up the treatment experience for those willing to lay drugs down permanently.
Christie, however, believes it needs to be done. “If we mandate people to jail, we can mandate people to treatment.”
When you are addicted to drugs, you can turn to extreme measures in order to get them. Sometimes, you can make bad choices that lead to your arrest. If you are charged with a crime, we may be able to help you get the help you need. Contact our offices today to discuss your case.