NJ Drug Treatment Plan Would Keep More Out of Prison

Friday, 01 Jun 2012 01:15 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill to provide mandatory drug treatment to nonviolent offenders, which could ease prison overcrowding, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The measure approved Thursday was backed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie, but it could cost three times more than he has targeted for the program in his 2013 budget proposal.

Christie has called the treatment program a priority and wants to see it launched statewide immediately. But the Inquirer reported that it will start as a limited pilot program once the state assembly passes its own version of the measure and merges it with the Senate bill.

Christie declined to comment on passage of the measure, but Democratic Sen, Raymond Lesniak, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said he appreciated the governor’s support.

“But we have to this the right way, both fiscally and in making sure it’s effective,” Lesniak said, referring to launching the measure as a pilot project rather than taking it statewide from the start as the governor wanted.

Christie has said in the past that he supports the drug treatment effort because it will save lives while keeping people out of prison.

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