New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made headlines recently for directly challenging President Obama when it comes to sentencing for drug crimes. Just a few weeks ago, the federal government released approximately 6,600 inmates from federal prisons. The releases were prompted by changes made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which retroactively reduced the maximum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. It has been estimated that roughly half of the inmates who secured early releases in accordance with the new guidelines were convicted on charges of cocaine possession.
More early releases could be granted. According to the federal agency in charge of sentencing guidelines, it is possible that more than 40,000 federal prisoners will be released over the next few years in accordance with the new directives.
Meanwhile, Gov. Christie criticized the president for being soft on crime. Coincidentally, the governor spoke out against the federal government criminal justice strategy on the same day that President Obama was making a public appearance at Rutgers University’s Center for Law and Justice in Newark, NJ. Gov. Christie was in Camden, NJ to champion his own criminal justice policies, but he took the time to critique the president’s push to lower mandatory minimum sentences on a mass scale. For example, Gov. Christie strongly suggested that the president wielded too much influence over the decision issued by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. According to Gov. Christie, President Obama was responsible for appointing four of the five members who cast votes on the panel.
The New Jersey governor contrasted his own approach with President Obama’s approach. While he is “just letting these folks out,” said Gov. Christie, NJ is making sure that non-violent drug offenders are still held accountable in drug courts. Instead of simply releasing these offenders (or sentencing them to serious prison time), the drug courts allow drug-addicted defendants to complete a drug treatment program and become productive members of society.
The numbers seem to back up Gov. Christie’s claim of success in New Jersey. Since Christie was elected governor, crime in the Garden State has reportedly fallen by 20 percent.
If you have been charged with a drug crime in New Jersey, you need to make sure that your first call is to an experienced attorney who can help you avoid jail time. Contact the knowledgeable criminal lawyers at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC.