The idea of cutting costs in the criminal justice system seems like it would be a common sense idea that would appeal to conservatives and progressives alike. In recent years, one of the most effective tools in advancing this objective has been the rise of alternatives to the “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” approach of the “war on drugs” years.
Put simply, some smart people finally figured out that it’s a heckuva lot cheaper and more effective to help drug addicts escape the clutches of their health crises than it is to merely throw them in jail. Hence, the eminently sensible and highly effective concept of “drug courts” that seek to effect just such an outcome.
Yesterday, New Jersey’s conservative Republican governor, Chris Christie, signed a bill that makes his state the first in the nation to mandate drug treatment rather than jail time for drug-abusers convicted of nonviolent crimes. Good for him and good for New Jersey. Let’s hope their program is an off-the-charts success.
Now, if only conservatives running the North Carolina General Assembly could see (or remember) the obvious wisdom in this approach. Read More