After many opponents of New Jersey’s strict drug laws have argued it, the state’s governor finally came out and stated that the harsh penalties being imposed for drug charges are largely ineffective. Too often, in New Jersey’s war on drugs, authorities simply lock up inmates on drug charges and do very little, or nothing, to rehabilitate them. The New Jersey governor said that nothing is being accomplished by locking up an addict and then sending him or her back out on the streets when their sentence is done.

This mentality is expected to change with an expansion to the state’s drug court program, which take measures to ease an inmate’s transition back into society. It will also help addicts who are involved in crimes receive the help that they so direly need.

The governor claimed that these measures would ease a burden on taxpayers because fewer inmates would be sent to prison and the program would help drug-addicted inmates become more constructive citizens. He recently signed off on the order and will select an individual from his staff to oversee the prisoner re-entry program.

The governor is expected to test out some new wrinkles to the drug court program in two counties. This would grant judges the power to sentence a drug offender to a treatment program rather than to prison. This program can last for up to five years and offer offenders things like job training and educational classes.

Taxpayers should be happy to hear about the recent tweaks, as it costs them $11,000 per inmate that enters a treatment program rather than the $39,000 a year it costs to house them in a state prison. Treatment programs are also proven to work. Far fewer offenders are re-arrested after going through treatment programs than those who were in prison.

The Sparta Independent, “NJ governor to expand state drug court,” GEOFF MULVIHILL, Dec. 2, 2011