Christie to mark prison’s reopening as drug treatment center in NJ

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FORT DIX, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie is set to mark the reopening of a New Jersey prison as an addiction treatment center for inmates.

Christie is due to hold a roundtable discussion Monday with the counselors who will work with the inmates at the nearly 700-bed facility.

The Republican governor said his administration would turn the former Mid-State Correctional Facility into a treatment center in his 2016 state of the state address. He requested $2 million for the project in 2016 and said this year he will seek an additional $2 million.

The reopening comes in Christie’s final year as governor, as he has focuses on the state’s drug addiction crisis. He also was recently tapped by GOP President Donald Trump to head a commission focused on drug addiction.

Christie has told lawmakers that his mission in his final year in office is to saving lives by tackling the state’s opioid drug epidemic. He says he will change rules to allow 18- and 19-year-olds to be considered children to cut down on waiting lists for treatment beds, and announced the launch of ReachNJ.gov or a phone help line at 1-844-Reach-NJ for people seeking help, including finding treatment centers.

State data shows nearly 1,600 people in New Jersey died from drug overdoses in 2015, an increase of about 20 percent over 2014.