Chris Christie Announces Closing New Jersey Prison to Become Drug Treatment Facility

PHOTO: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey delivers his State of the State address, Jan. 12, 2016, in Trenton, N.J.Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey delivers his State of the State address, Jan. 12, 2016, in Trenton, N.J.

It may not have been a campaign speech, but the overtures of Chris Christie’s 6th State of the State address today were easily transferable to the New Jersey governor’s presidential bid.

The biggest announcement of Christie’s address came on the same issue that has been instrumental in reviving his presidential campaign, especially in New Hampshire: the drug epidemic.

Christie announced that a closing state prison will be transformed into a drug abuse treatment facility for prison inmates.

“The victims of addiction deserve treatment, whether they’re in the community or they are incarcerated,” Christie said.

“Next year, [the prison] will re-open for its new mission,” Christie said. “We are doing this because every life, every life, is a precious gift from God.”

He also announced the expansion of the state’s recovery coach program, which provides counseling support to those in the recovery process, with $1.7 million in fresh funds.

Making a call for a more compassionate and comprehensive justice system, Christie also announced the commitment of $100 million in funds to increase access to mental health care and substance abuse treatments.

“For someone going through a mental health crisis, they’re going to get better care in a treatment facility, not in a prison,” Christie said.

“If we can help people get access to coordinated care, not just for their physical conditions, but for their mental health, addiction issues or both, we can deliver more effective treatment and lower the long-term cost to the state,” he said.

And in a pre-buttal to the president’s State of the Union address tonight, Christie bashed the president’s speech prior to its delivery as a “fantasy wish list,” while contending that he, by contrast, has delivered real results for New Jersey.

“All we’re going to hear tonight about the big challenges we face today as a nation is a lot of hot air, not only from Congress but the White House,” Christie said. “The State of the Union won’t be a call to action tonight, it will be a fantasy wish list by a president who has failed us. It’s the world as he wishes it was, not the real world his failed leadership has left to all Americans."

“For the last six years, we’ve done it differently in New Jersey,” he continued. “A lot of people in this room have shown the courage to set aside partisan differences and achieve real progress. So to all those who have chosen to reach out across the aisle -- thank you, thank you for all you’ve done for our state.”