Governor Christie Pushes Drug Courts
This week Gov. Christie announced plans to greatly expand our state’s Drug Court Program. It is an effort to get treatment for non-violent drug users rather than incarcerate them. It was was back in the Nancy Reagan just-say-no era that America lost it’s mind about drugs. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act was passed in 1986. The war on drugs, the explosion of crack cocaine, and the public’s love for mandatory sentencing brought us to a place where a non-violent drug user who really needed treatment, not prison, was being sentenced as if they were a drug kingpin and ended up serving far more time than dangerous, violent criminals. Federal laws were passed regarding crack that were so out of proportion with penalties for possessing the powder form of the drug as to be laughable. Crack was the drug of choice for poor inner-city people. Powder form cocaine was more used by your affluent in the suburbs. They were both addicts. They were both doing cocaine. Yet you’d have to be caught with 100 times the amount of powder form to trigger the same mandatory 10 year sentence the small amount of crack would get. It wasn’t until last year that Congress finally addressed that inequity in the Fair Sentencing Act.
Gov. Christie is right on this. He’s even being praised by some democrats. Look at recidivism. Non-violent drug users who are incarcerated are convicted again at the rate of 43%. Non-violent drug users who instead receive treatment are convicted again at the rate of only 8%. Non-violent drug users cost taxpayers $38,900 per year to house in jail. Non-violent drug users cost taxpayers $11,379 per year to treat. You cannot argue the math and good luck trying to argue the morality.