By John Celock
In a speech similar to his State of the State address last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) focused on combatting drug addiction in a speech to New Hampshire state lawmakers Wednesday.
Christie, the latest Republican presidential candidate to speak to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, focused on his record in New Jersey with respect to drug addiction. Christie’s speech differed from two other GOP candidates – Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – who spoke Wednesday for his focus on a single topic. The New Hampshire House has been inviting presidential candidates to address the lawmakers.
“For the nonviolent and non-dealing addict, putting them in jail costs the taxpayer much too much for a yield that is much too small,” Christie said.
Christie has made drug addiction a top focus of his in New Jersey for his administration. During his State of the State addresses this year and last year, Christie made the drug issue a major focus of his remarks.
During his speech to New Hampshire lawmakers, Christie said that in New Jersey, first time drug offenders are going to treatment programs instead of jail. He said the change has reduced crime in New Jersey by 20 percent in three years and the prison population by 10 percent over the same time. During his State of the State last week, Christie touted the prison population reduction, which led to him closing a state prison. During last week’s speech Christie said that he would be turning the closed prison into a drug treatment center for inmates.
“In New Jersey we are not building new prisons, we are closing prisons,” Christie said Wednesday in New Hampshire.
The drug issue is a prevalent one in New Hampshire, which has been battling heroin addiction in rural areas. Prior to Christie’s speech, state lawmakers debated a bill relating to heroin addiction.
Christie said in his speech that government needs to focus more on addressing the issues of addiction rather than treating it as a crime. He said that tobacco addiction is treated as a health issue and the same should be said for drug addiction.
Christie tied his stance on drugs to his prolife views.
“I’m prolife and I believe that every life is precious. For those of us who believe on the prolife movement we focus too much on the nine months in the womb. Those are the easiest nine months. Life gets much more complicated after those nine months,” Christie said. “I’m sure there is not a person in this chamber who hasn’t made a decision in their personal or professional lives we would not change. Thankfully those decisions did not involve drugs. Therefore for the grace of God go I.”