Governor Chris Christie is calling for expanding the Garden State’s successful Drug Court program with mandatory treatment for non-violent, drug-addicted offenders throughout all 21 New Jersey counties. He’s also asking for legislation to identify appropriate offenders for inclusion in the process.

“Today, I am proposing to expand this program throughout all 21 counties and allow judges to mandate drug treatment for non-violent offenders as a provision of their sentencing,” says Christie. “This plan puts basic principles into action – that no life in our society is disposable, that drug addiction is a disease that can and must be treated, and that the biggest obstacle to dealing with addiction is denial.”

Under the proposal there would be: Increased identification of eligible drug addicted non-violent offenders. As part of this effort, information on drug addiction and treatment would be required to be given to those charged with second and third drug degree offenses; a court ordered clinical assessment to determine suitability for drug court. Pre-sentencing reports would be required to include information regarding drug addiction and recommendations regarding whether an assessment should be ordered for a defendant; a requirement that Courts make a finding regarding addiction for any offender having a clinical assessment. If offenders are found to be drug addicted, meeting present drug court eligibility factors and are prison bound, then those offenders would be sentenced to the drug court program regardless of their desire to enter the program; and the courts must consider a defendant’s cooperation in the process of drug treatment and assessment in sentencing a defendant to encourage and leverage cooperation and participation in drug treatment programming.

The Governor explains, “My plan will provide for treatment in a way that motivates addicted offenders to accept the rigors of rehabilitation, even though they may not volunteer for it. By doing so, we are striving to give these individuals the assistance they need to reform recurring habits in order to lead a better life and a have a more productive future.”