TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took a step in an effort to end the stigma of drug addiction, by pardoning a Philadelphia man with a history of drug use for crimes committed in New Jersey when he was under the influence.
“No life is disposable,” Christie said. “No life is beyond redemption.”
John Berry, 61, has held a record for more than forty years for robbery and possession of stolen property, which came as a direct result of his struggle with drug abuse, WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported.
Berry was arrested and then later convicted in 1972 for shoplifting toy guns and attempting to rob another store in Atlantic City while under the influence. He was 18 years old at the time.
Berry has been sober for 28 years and now has a wife, three children and a college degree. Berry is also active in the drug court program, dedicating his life to helping those struggling with drug abuse.
“The only thing I did was wake up every morning and make a conscious decision not to put a chemical in my body,” Berry said. “Make a conscious decision not to commit a crime.”
Christie said everyone deserves a second chance, and hopes to ease the stigma on those struggling with drug problems by creating a dialogue on the issue.
“Where people don’t talk about it, they’re unwilling to confront it, and as a result, they can’t get help,” Christie said.
In early November, an emotional video of Christie taking about drug addiction went viral after Huffington Post posted it on Facebook. In the video, Christie shared stories of people close to him who suffered from drug addiction, and the impact it had on his political position.