Governor Chris Christie Overlooks Political Boundaries to Support Landmark Integrity House Program at Hudson County Correctional Center

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently experienced the Integrity House program, visiting with female inmates at the Hudson County Correctional Center, at the invitation of Hudson County Director of Corrections, Oscar Aviles, and Former New Jersey Governor, Jim McGreevey.

L-R: Integrity House CEO, Robert Budsock; Director of the Women's Program, Helena Muhammad; New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie; and Former New Jersey Governor, Jim McGreevey.

"I’ve been hearing about this program for a while and I wanted to come and see it myself,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, “It is really, really encouraging for me to see the light in your eyes."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently experienced the Integrity House program, visiting with female inmates at the Hudson County Correctional Center, at the invitation of Hudson County Director of Corrections, Oscar Aviles, and Former New Jersey Governor, Jim McGreevey. The program focuses on substance abuse treatment of female inmates in a therapeutic community environment prior to their release. The program has significantly reduced recidivism rates, and as a result of its success is one of only two jail programs in the country to have been reauthorized for funding by the United States Department of Justice through 2015.

“I’ve been hearing about this program for a while and I wanted to come and see it myself,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, “It is really, really encouraging for me to see the light in your eyes. What I want to try to be able to do as governor is be able to give everybody another chance. I know in my heart that this is a disease. We don’t treat a disease by just locking somebody up and just keeping them in a cell.”

Governor Christie’s visit blurred the division of political parties and pointed out the need for programs such as this throughout the state. Important factors in this cause are the effectiveness of the program and the positive cost-benefit for the state. In fact, Governor Christie made drug treatment and the expansion of drug courts a centerpiece of his criminal justice reform legislation that passed and was signed into law in July of 2012.

As highlighted in the current HBO documentary “Fall to Grace,” McGreevey takes on the role as a spiritual advisor for up to 40 women at Hudson County Correctional Center who are voluntarily taking part in a program that focuses on helping to reduce recidivism and reincarceration through intensive drug treatment and counseling. This unique program targets problems such as lack of decent housing, drug addiction, inadequate education, and overall, the absence of counseling and longer-term follow-up for incarcerated women following their release. Bucking the national average 66% rate of recidivism, the women who have completed the Integrity House Program have achieved monumental strides, with a recidivism rate of only 25% as a result of the intense inmate therapy and community integration assistance that is provided. The program’s success has spawned a parallel program for men at the correctional center.

Through his work with the Hudson County Correctional Center, McGreevey was introduced to Integrity House, a nationally-recognized substance abuse rehabilitation center with locations in Newark and Secaucus, and found that their valuable mission to assist those in need to gain stability in their life and to break the grip of substance abuse was in harmony with his values set. McGreevey believes in the effectiveness of counseling programs and now works extensively with Integrity House in their efforts. The film “Fall to Grace,” brings attention to the necessity of addictions counseling programs among addicts, especially those in the criminal justice system.

About Integrity House:
Integrity House is celebrating more than 40 years of providing substance abuse treatment and support services for over 2,000 adult and adolescent addicts annually. The groundbreaking work of Integrity House is recognized as both a national and international prototype for recovery. This non-profit treatment program is based in Newark and Secaucus, N.J., and recently received full 3-year CARF accreditation. For more information, visit http://www.integrityhouse.org or call (973) 623-7246.

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Gina Salerno
R&J Public Relations
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