Gov. Chris Christie– Bridgegate & Prison Reform
Governor Chris Christie’s problem with Bridgegate has made the national news for several months. The Governor’s prison reform policies and his connections as a former lobbyist for a private prison company have faded from the public eye.
Governor Christie was one of several conservative Republican governors who has advocated prison reform as a way to save tax dollars. He passed bipartisan legislation mandating drug treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent offenders. Gov. Christie has stressed that drug treatment and not jail sentences was the path for reduction of crime. If recidivism was lowered, then New Jersey will shrink its crowded prison system. In the end, a successful drug treatment program would reduce the state prison population and the state’s deficit. Gov. Christie has initiated positive steps for prison reform.
On the other hand, the New York Times, conducted last year an investigation titled, Halfway House Help , of New Jersey’s program for halfway houses. The articles described in detail the horrors of this system. According to the Times investigation, the violent criminals were not controlled and the nonviolent offenders were at the mercy of other inmates. The half way houses were managed by private companies.
Governor Christie, before becoming Governor of New jersey, was the lobbyist for Community Education Centers, the biggest company in charge of halfway houses in New Jersey. In just over five years, roughly 5,100 escapes occurred at those New Jersey halfway houses. There was criticism of Gov. Christie for his lobbyist praise of this private prison company which did not protect the nonviolent inmates or the public from the violent inmates. There was tremendous concern over the continuing flow of inmates to this private prison company during his governorship despite its horrible record.
Only time will tell if Governor Christie was a true leader for prison reform.
“A Republican no less! This should be news, but unfortunately overshadowed by the Bridge debacle, apparently. I’m not sure that a private prison oversight is the right way to head, given the ACLU’s research into the few private facilities in the U.S., but a serious overhaul of sentencing is necessary for non-violent offenders and drug users, to start.”By Tonya
It’s no secret that America’s prisons are over-crowded due mostly to minimum mandatory sentences. We have to do something and Governor Christie is on track. The world of half-way houses are a flaw in the system that needs a big fix. Let’s spend more time truly rehabilitating prisoners and invest in the gap that happens upon release until they are settled.