Chris Christie Deserves Credit For His Moving Speech About Drug Addiction And Treatment (VIDEO)
At a town hall in Belmont, New Hampshire, the Huffington Post captured a riveting and emotionally raw moment of New Jersey Governor and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie speaking on the need for treatment for drug addicts.
Speaking to an audience at the Huffington Post ‘16 and Presidential’ segment, Christie talked about his mother’s addiction to cigarettes. His mother made several attempts to break her addiction to nicotine, but each method proved unsuccessful for her. His mother eventually was diagnosed with cancer.
From this experience, where addiction is concerned, at least, Christie seems to understand the importance of compassion over judgment.
“No one came to me and said, ‘Don’t treat her ’cause she got what she deserved. No one came to me and said, hey listen, ‘You know your mother was dumb. She started smoking when she was 16. Then after we told her it was bad for her, she kept doing it, so we’re not going to give her chemotherapy, we’re not gonna give her radiation, we’re not going to give her any of that stuff — you know why? ‘Cause she’s getting what she deserves.’ No one said that,” Christie said.
The rate of cigarette deaths in this country is jarring. A CDC report says, “Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.” The report goes on to state there have been 480,000 smoking-related deaths annually. Secondhand smoke has caused a reported 41,000 deaths per year.
According to Christie, people who are addicted to heroin, cocaine, or alcohol are not afforded compassion. I would add crack to that. Black communities have been torn apart by crack, as white communities have been decimated by the prevalence of heroin. The epidemic of crack is not registered as significant enough to address; rather it’s used as a tool to shame black people for lack of personal responsibly. Christie missed a prime opportunity to show black people he cared about their communities too.
Christie believes incarceration for addicts has done more harm and little good to cure people of addiction. This applies to low-income black people too, which he, unfortunately, omitted as well. If black people are caught in possession of crack, or is tested with crack in their system, the criminal justice system gives them the strictest sentencing allowed. Statistics show black people are incarcerated at three times the rate for nonviolent crimes than white people. Other than this omission, Christie was right on the money, and on the pulse of the issue that has plagued individuals, families, and communities. Mass incarceration for drug offenses has not resolved people’s addiction.
Incarceration has been a Band-Aid to a wound in need of stitches
Christie is correct, it’s imperative that we come from a place of compassion and not hate. The better solution is to let go of the desire to seek revenge and quick fix though the criminal justice system. Christie has commended the New Jersey court system for offering drug addicts the option of rehabilitation instead of incarceration.
“What I’ve been saying in New Jersey is that we can no longer incarcerate our way out of this problem — that we need to give treatment. This is a disease. I think, quite frankly, the war on drugs has been a failure. And what we need to do now is to work on giving people the tools that we know we have available to us. We know how to help people. Let’s do it and let’s stop spending money on incarcerating non-violent people because they are drug addicted. Let’s get them into treatment,” said Christie.