New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday extolled the virtues of drug and alcohol rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration – a key component of his agenda last year – in moral, economic, and religious terms, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Locking folks away and offering them no help may make us forget for a moment, or a day, or a week, or a month,” he said. “But it will come back. So we need to reach out with open hearts and open minds.”
Christie, a former prosecutor, gained broad support in the legislature last year when he called for mandatory drug court for nonviolent offenders instead of jail time. Despite bipartisan support at home, questions about funding and resources remain. The law, funded at $2.5 million, took effect in July in the two areas and is set to expand statewide over five years. Questions linger about how the state will manage the program. “The governor has not adequately funded the program,” said State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who sponsored it. Lesniak said $30 million would be needed to cover next year’s expansion. He recommended taking money from the state Department of Corrections, which had a $1.02 billion budget in fiscal 2013. Another problem is a shortage of beds. Participants wait 90 days between the time they enroll and the time they enter treatment, Lesniak said.