On his way to New York City for a couple of fundraisers, President Obama plans to stop by the Integrity House in Newark, N.J., to press for criminal justice reform for non-violent drug offenders. The Integrity House is a halfway house and drug-treatment center for criminals.
“Nice of you to show up,” notes Governor Chris Christie, who has spent a large part of his two terms in New Jersey pushing for criminal justice reform and drug addiction treatment.
Christie’s campaign released an Instagram video this morning pointing out his record on the issue but also a 20 percent drop in crime and a 10 percent drop in incarceration since he took office as governor of New Jersey.
For Christie, the fight is personal, as he began pushing hard for better drug treatment programs well before any of the 2016 candidates realized the importance of recognizing the addiction epidemic sweeping the country.
Christie frequently tells the story of a close friend who was a successful lawyer but died as the result of an addiction to pain killers.
“If we’re spending $500 per second to defeat drug addiction in our society, it seems like we’re spending it on the wrong things,” Christie, explained in 2014. “Politicians in Washington and in state capitals say, ‘Well, if we just make the penalties harsher, that’ll teach ’em.’ That misunderstands this problem, doesn’t it? My friend was not stupid, he was incredibly smart.”
In September, Hillary Clinton proposed a $10 billion program to combat what she described as a “deadly epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction.”
“While President Obama and Secretary Clinton have recently decided to pay lip service this issue now that it is politically expedient, Governor Christie has made this a top issue since he came into office in 2010,” campaign spokesperson Samantha Smith said in a statement this morning.