By David Madden

TRENTON, NJ. (CBS) — New Jersey is giving those who have had minor run-ins with the law an early Christmas present….an easier path to clearing their criminal records.

Governor Chris Christie signed a series of bills this past week that changes the system under which those records are expunged once someone’s done their time.

“I’ve always believed in second chances,” Christie said, “and I believe that these bills represent second chances that will now be even more meaningful for folks who are going through our criminal justice system.”

Many of those people go through the system as the result of drug addiction, an issue close to Christie’s heart. And he feels taking action during the holiday season drives home that point even more.

“It reminds people who God is forgiving and that God made us in His image and that we need to be forgiving, too,” the Governor added. “That we need to give those who truly have earned forgiveness the chance to be forgiven.”

The new rules shorten waiting periods for clearing a criminal record and allow for more minor offenses to be taken out, particularly for juveniles. Prospective employers will not only be barred from asking about someone’s criminal record but now must provide those being interviewed with a chance to tell their own story in their own way.

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