(CNN) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday there’s far too many people sitting in prisons for non-violent drug crimes and called on Republicans to focus on people not just before they’re born but after as well.
“I’m pro-life and if you’re pro-life you have to be pro-life when they get out of the womb also,” Christie said in an appearance at the Aspen Institute in Colorado, similar to comments he made last month at a major social conservative gathering in the nation's capital.
Christie was in Colorado for events associated with his role as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Thursday night’s event was a panel with other Republican governors including, Rick Scott of Florida, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
Christie said the justice system must stop stigmatizing the disease of drug addiction and focus more on rehabilitation.
“We don’t give them any kind of significant treatment, long-range treatment, and then we release them. And then we wonder why they go back and commit more crimes to support their habit,” Christie said.
The potential 2016 presidential candidate also said giving drug addicts treatment instead of prison time would help the economy too.
“You get someone off of drugs and back into a productive life, that not only helps society and our economy financially but it also makes us feel better about who we are,” Christie said.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted last week to reduce some the sentences of some drug offenders in federal prisons after Attorney General Eric Holder called for it.
The vote still needs to be approved by Congress and prisoners would have to apply for the reductions.
Meanwhile, Christie encouraged the GOP to focus on its core values while changing the norms for punishment in the war on drugs.
“If we are a party that believes that every life is precious and that no one, no one should be deprived of a second chance, well then we need to get on that issue,” Christie said.
Last month Christie was well received as he spoke at the fifth annual Road to the Majority conference, which is organized by Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition.
Christie touted his credentials on important social issues, and framed the issue of drug addiction and treatment in a social conservative way.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report