Flanked by former prisoners being trained at a food kitchen in Camden, [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie called for expanding the state’s Drug Court Program — which offers non-violent drug addicts treatment and counseling rather than prison sentences — by making it mandatory for certain offenders.
About 8 percent of those who participate in the drug courts, which are available statewide and accept about 1,400 new participants each year, are convicted again — as compared to 43 percent of drug offenders released from prison, statistics show. Also, drug court participants cost taxpayers about $11,379 a year, as opposed to the $38,900 for the average prison inmate.
Through an executive order, Christie also created a task force that will, for the first time, coordinate the state’s programs to help prisoners return to normal life.
“We’re not giving people the skills they need, and we’re not giving them the treatment they need to overcome some of the problems that led them to crime in the first place,” Christie told a small crowd at Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, which serves food to the city’s poor and needy.
I have thought for some time that if we are ever going to end the War on Drugs, the impetus for it has to come from the Right. Democrats are too spineless to expose themselves politically. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Clinton could reform welfare. Only Republicans can back off a war on our own people.
Note particularly the cost savings. The Drug War is fucking expensive. Prisons, guards, cops — they cost money. People who go from smoking a joint to full-time criminality cost money and deprive us of working taxpayers. Treating people’s addictions is both cheaper and more effective.
Even the current GOP front-runner, a notorious drug warrior who thinks we should model our policies off of Singapore and drug test for federal benefits, is starting to get the hint.
It has always struck me that if you’re serious about trying to stop drug use, then you need to find a way to have a fairly easy approach to it and you need to find a way to be pretty aggressive about insisting–I don’t think actually locking up users is a very good thing. I think finding ways to sanction them and to give them medical help and to get them to detox is a more logical long term policy.
The day we realize that this country’s drug problem is, first and foremost, a medical problem, we will have taken a step back from the abyss. It’s good to see that a few people are starting to get it.