New Jersey Governor has joined the ranks of politicians and officials denouncing the War on Drugs as a failure. He made the statement last week while speaking at the Brookings Institution.
“The war on drugs, while well-intentioned, has been a failure. We’re warehousing addicted people everyday in state prisons in New Jersey, giving them no treatment.”
According to the Huffington Post, Christie used the opportunity to applaud his own efforts, recently passed legislation that mandates drug treatment for offenders instead of jail time. The new program is slated to start this upcoming year, beginning with three counties and eventually spreading throughout the state.
Christie pointed to the economics of the drug war as proof of its failure, saying, “It costs us $49,000 a year to warehouse a prisoner in New Jersey state prisons last year. A full year of inpatient drug treatment costs $24,000 a year.”
He, like a growing number of Americans, recognizes the problems with incarcerating otherwise nonviolent offenders for drug crimes, spending thousands to hold them for years only to release them back into the same situation that led them to the system in the first place.
While not everyone is certain that mandatory drug treatment can help – many think addicts won’t recover unless it is willingly — it is, without question, a step in the right direction.
Even if the offender struggles to get clean and conquer addiction, if treatment saves this kind of money, it’s worth it if for nothing more than the financial costs.
But chances are good that treatment will do more than just save money.
When you send someone to prison, you don’t only incarcerate their body, you change them internally. Institutionalization is a real occurrence, causing otherwise independent and otherwise upstanding people to become the stereotypical criminal or prisoner. This creates a greater chance of recidivism even among the first-time nonviolent drug offender.
Drug treatment, on the other hand, addresses things like the reasons for addiction, the things that led a person to drugs, and helps create a more productive frame of mind for the offender.
Obviously, this can be difficult for people who aren’t ready for treatment or don’t want to hear what someone else has to say is good for them. But, in the long run, treatment is a far better alternative than prison.
If you are charged with a drug offense in the state of New Jersey, you need someone on your side who is familiar with the laws and the options available to you. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.