N.J. lawmaker wants to cut terms of inmates who get drug treatment

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to reduce the prison terms of nonviolent offenders in exchange for their participation in a drug-treatment program.The bill sponsored by Senator Ray Lesniak would allow 1,000  inmates with addictions to leave prison two years early by completing a substance abuse treatment course. Valdin Kadric said he was incarcerated many times because of his drug use before seeking treatment. He said the bill is a huge step for prisoners who are addicts trying to return to society.”For the low-risk, chemically dependant offenders that show initiative to change, this bill is an excellent opportunity for them to receive the help they need,” said Kadric. “This bill will give addicts in prison something to work toward and motivate them to utilize programs offered by the Department of Corrections so that they may qualify to take advantage of this opportunity.”  Lesniak said Thursday he was inspired by former Gov. Jim McGreevey to develop the bill. McGreevey now works with the residential treatment center Integrity House. He said the measure will help inmates who are addicts transform their lives. “This recognizes the capacity to treat addiction, to regain a sense of purposefulness in life, and productivity,” said McGreevey. “It treats the disease … the inability to treat results in the criminal behavior.” The initial two-year $40 million cost of the Earn Your Way Out of Prison program would be paid by restructuring the Corrections Department budget.  Lesniak said that at the end of the second year, the savings from closing a prison wing will exceed the cost of the program.

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