As Obama Visits Prison, Christie To Outline His Own Criminal Justice Reform

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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As President Obama tours a federal prison in Oklahoma on Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie is set to unveil a plan of his own to reform parts of the nation’s criminal justice system.

The Republican governor will give a policy speech on the topic at a community center in Camden, New Jersey, emphasizing his background as a former U.S. attorney.

“When I became U.S. Attorney for New Jersey in 2002, I got to do that by helping lead the fight against corruption, drugs and terror,” Christie will say, according to excerpts provided to The Daily Caller ahead of his speech. “We got illegal guns off the streets, prosecuted gang members and stopped terrorist plots against Fort Dix and Newark Airport.”

According to aides, Christie will call for more “interaction between law enforcement and citizens, taking officers out of their cars and putting them on the streets.”

He will call for reforming the bail system across the country, “making it possible for people who are poor and commit minor offenses to afford bail,” his campaign said.

Christie will also call for “mandatory drug courts across the country, including in all 94 federal districts” and for more vocational training for ex-offenders.

Aides say the overlapping with Obama’s visit to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside Oklahoma City is coincidental. With his visit, Obama will become the first sitting president to appear at a federal prison.

On Thursday, Christie will also tour the Camden’s Volunteers of America Hope Hall, described online as “a 175-bed residential correctional treatment program for adult male offenders.”

Criminal justice reform is not a new topic for Christie. Last year, he held a forum on drug addiction at Trenton’s New Hope Baptist Church, the childhood church of Whitney Houston and the location of her funeral after her 2012 drug overdose.

His campaign is billing the speech as the fifth “in a series of substantive policy speeches.” He has also given addresses on education, entitlement reform, national security and the economy.

In his speech, Christie will also rail against politicians who “scapegoat” law enforcement.

“Some irresponsible leaders love to find scapegoats or ride each wave of public outrage to support their narrow ideological goals,” Christie will say. “It’s always easier to blame the cops, or guns, or a lack of government spending. Well I’m not going to do that.”

“I care too much about this to give you quick fixes,” Christie will add. “And what we’ve seen on the streets of places like Ferguson is exactly what you get from a half century of quick fixes.”

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