Gov. Chris Christie (R) was named the “reentry champion of the world” by boxing legend “Iron” Mike Tyson and ex-Gov. Jim McGreevey (D) at the 4th annual Prisoner Reentry Conference in Jersey City.
Introducing Christie, McGreevey, now the executive director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program, referred to the incumbent as “the governor of second chances” who motivated him to take the reigns on reentry after his fall from grace in 2004.
During his public remarks, Christie said that with the help of state Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31), he is hoping to reform expungement laws for non-violent offenders before June 30th – a statement he also made at last year’s conference.
“We’re trying to get to a point where we can make expungement make sense for the folks who need it and also be protective of the public, as well: and I think we can find that place and find a much broader, more expansive ability to give people chances,” said Christie.
” .. We’re not talking about expunging murder, we would never do that, but there are a whole host of crimes that currently aren’t permitted to be expunged, and should, in our view.”
Tyson, who spent almost three years in prison for a 1992 rape conviction, attributed luck as the main reason he was able to land on his feet after he was released.
“It takes all your hope away from you after you get out of prison. But, I was very lucky. That’s all it had to do: luck, luck,” Tyson stated.
“And blessing?,” McGreevey pondered.
“I consider that luck too, [I] put that in the same category,” added the retired power punching pugilist, who at one time was routinely referred to as “The Baddest Man on the Planet.”
Tyson further stated that it is important to get involved with religion or a cause “to get some kind of grip with yourself.”
Christie also spoke about a recent White House visit where he wanted to show President Donald Trump (R) drug addicts struggling to find their way to recovery up close and personal.
One specific example was about AJ Solomon, the son of NJ Supreme Court Justice Lee Solomon, a former member of the governor’s staff who has battled with heroin addiction for years.
“The president knows Lee, personally, and when I went to the Oval Office and told him ‘by the way, one of the addicts that I brought here today is Lee Solomon’s son’ and the president just looked stunned,” Christie recalled.
“He said ‘Lee’s son is a heroin addict?’ I said ‘yes he is.’”
Christie then went into great detail about the younger Solomon’s inner demons, how he would get high just to function and how at one point the withdrawal symptoms were so bad he was considering leaving a treatment facility to fly home and commit suicide.
Shortly thereafter, Tyson followed the NJ Reentry Corporation in presenting Christie with a championship belt.
Last month, President Donald Trump said that Christie would soon be the head of a national opioid addiction task force, given Christie’s increased efforts to combat drug addiction and ramp up recovery in his final year in office.
Furthermore, back in September, Christie and NJ Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced a Fentanyl ban and the expansion of the state’s Recovery Coach Program.
Finally, Christie is in the midst of a high-profile, multi-million dollar television advertising campaign for drug addiction treatment as he looks to put a stamp on his legacy during his final year in office.