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Gov. Christie And Former Gov. McGreevey Unite For Prison Reform

KEARNY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former governor Jim McGreevey shared a microphone at a gathering Wednesday with female inmates at the Hudson County Jail.

Democrat McGreevey is a spiritual counselor to as many as 40 women who are taking part in the Integrity House pilot program which aims to address the problems that keep inmates returning to jail.

"Incarceration is not always the answer, people need treatment," inmate Barbara Murray told WCBS 880's Levon Putney.

The program helps inmates deal with a variety of issues including drug dependence and unemployment.

"We're changing lives," McGreevey said, adding that while 60 percent of inmates return to jail, three out of four women who leave the program never come back.

Gov. Christie And Former Gov. McGreevey Unite For Prison Reform

Republican Christie has been an advocate for drug treatment to reduce the rate of recidivism.

At Wednesday's event, Christie said he and McGreevey have philosophical differences on some issues, but are united on this one, calling it a non-partisan issue.

Gov. Chris Christie
Gov. Chris Christie greets inmates at Hudson County Jail (credit: Levon Putney/WCBS 880)

"The war on drugs in our country as an enforcement tool has failed," Christie said. "I will always support and expand these programs for the people who want to work."

Gov. Christie And Former Gov. McGreevey Unite For Prison Reform

Christie said a version of Integrity House will be in every county along with drug courts within four years.

"He believes in redemption," McGreevey said of Christie. "To have a governor on the national stage arguing for treatment over incarceration changes the dynamic radically."

McGreevey has been an advocate for rehabilitation over incarceration since resigning from office in November 2004. 

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