Legislators Consider Whether New Jersey Should Relax Drug Laws – Sentencing

A number of New Jersey legislators called for changes in the state’s criminal code at the third annual Prisoner Re-Entry Conference in Jersey City this month. Current governor Chris Christie, and his predecessor, Democrat Jim McGreevey, shared the stage and jointly called for reforms that they said would encourage rehabilitation of drug offenders and make the laws less punitive.

Christie told reporters that he is optimistic that he can iron out changes to a bill that he conditionally vetoed earlier this year, and will then be prepared to sign the statute into law. He is set to meet with state Senator Sandra Cunningham this week to work out revisions to a proposed law that would give non-violent drug offenders the opportunity to have criminal charges and convictions expunged, provided they completed the Drug Court program.

McGreevey, now the director of Jersey City’s prisoner re-entry program, said that there are substantial benefits to rehabilitating drug users, rather than incarcerating them. He noted that, for any reform to have real meaning and impact, it must include a chance to expunge a prior mistake. He also suggested that, should New Jersey take the leadership in this issue, it could lead to similar changes across the country.

Christie and McGreevey weren’t the only strange bedfellows at the event, though. Conservative news analyst Andrew Napolitano joined with liberal activist the Reverend Al Sharpton to call for reforms that change the approach to drug abuse from one of punishment to one of rehabilitation.

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To discuss your rights and options if you are facing criminal drug charges, contact us online or call us at 732-780-0230. There is no charge for your first meeting. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

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