- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pardoned a 61-year-old Philadelphia man with a record of drug use on Wednesday, saying he turned his life around after a 1972 robbery conviction in Atlantic City.

Christie signed the pardon at the statehouse in Trenton alongside John Berry, who works as a case manager for the Philadelphia Treatment Court, which offers alternative processing to defendants with records of substance abuse.

Berry has been sober for 28 years. He credits God for turning his life around.

“Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah,” Berry said at the conclusion of the event.

In 1972 Berry and others, influenced by drugs and alcohol, attended a music festival in Atlantic City and shoplifted toy guns from a boardwalk store, Christie said. Later they attempted to rob another store with the toy guns, and Berry was caught and convicted of robbery. He served one year at a youth facility and four years’ parole.

Helping people break a cycle of crime and addiction is an important issue, said Christie, who did not take questions during the event.

“John’s story is the reason why I believe that no life is disposable,” he said.

It’s a message that has resonated for Christie as he runs for president. A video of the Republican governor talking about the death of a friend who was addicted to painkillers has been watched more than 8 million times since it was posted to Facebook this month.

It’s also an issue Christie has focused on as governor, including the expansion of the state’s drug court program so first-time nonviolent offenders can get treatment instead of jail time.

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This story has been corrected to change Tuesday to Wednesday.

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