By Grace Flynn
New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa lost power like the majority of those in New Jersey during Superstorm Sandy. However, Chiesa’s first priority, after the safety of his family, was the safety of the rest of the citizens of his state. With just 30 percent battery left in his cell phone, he hoped he would have enough time to discuss the plan for the coming weeks with Gov. Chris Christie. Chiesa visited students at the College on Tuesday, Nov. 13 to discuss how he dealt with Sandy and his ascent to his unpredictable profession.
Chiesa oversees 14 departments within the attorney general’s office, including the criminal justice, state police, gaming and racing departments. The attorney general is one of only four cabinet members directly appointed by the governor, as opposed to being elected.
“There’s just no way to plan your day,” Chiesa explained. “From a day-to-day perspective … it’s the best job a lawyer can have.”
During the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the attorney general was responsible for the reopening of New Jersey’s casinos, state police issues and “unscrupulous merchants” taking advantage of storm victims through price gauging. Chiesa was also responsible for protecting the homes of those affected from looters. He explained, however, that these issues were lessened because of the precautions taken by state and local governments before the storm.
Since his appointment as attorney general, Chiesa has worked to change numerous state policies, specifically those relating to criminal, consumer and civil rights cases. For example, Chiesa is seeking treatment instead of jail time for nonviolent drug offenders. His visit was sponsored by criminology professor Bruce Stout and the Criminology Students Association.
Chiesa left students with a bit of advice reminded them to be cognizant of what they are posting on social media sites. “Just be careful about what you put out there,” he said. “Just out of respect to yourselves and trying to think about a really long term view … Don’t take a step back.”