There are roughly 41,000 men and women incarcerated in prisons and jails in New Jersey. It costs $54,000 per year to sustain these New Jersey inmates every year.
The Major Concern
About a third of these inmates end up back in prison within a few years of their release. This is therefore a waste of human potential and public resources.
This cycle of incarceration adds to the country’s recidivism rate, and the number of incarcerated in prisons and jails in New Jersey.
Measures Taken to Counteract this Behavior
New Jersey has a number of programs, policies and initiatives that aim to return former inmates to constructive lives.
An example of such a program is the Atlantic City Safe Return Program that started in 2015.
The Atlantic City Safe Return Program
Volunteers from the America Delaware Valley provide assistance to the Safe Return Program of Atlantic City. The program was expected to help 400 ex-convicts over the past couple of years.
They ended up helping a whopping 1,400 people.
Who is Eligible to be Served by the Program?
This program is open to help anyone in the city that has been released from incarceration within the past 3 years. People under parole supervision are not eligible to this services.
Services Offered by Safe Return Program
- Substance abuse treatment
- Mental health services
- Connecting clients with educational and job opportunities
Report: New Jersey Re-Entry Corporation Proposal for Service Integration for Ex-Convicts
Lowering the Number of Inmates Incarcerated in Prisons and Jails in New Jersey
The prison re-entry program that is chaired by Gov. James McGreevy released a report early this month concerning an increase in these return programs. He is urging the state to increase such these efforts at the six prison facilities it operates throughout New Jersey.
New Jersey Re-entry Corporation has proposed a pilot program to integrate the essential services for ex-convicts. These services include:
- Training for employment
- Medicaid employment connected to care
- Getting their state Identification Cards
- Legal services
New Jersey Inmates: The Costs of Housing
The group expects the initiative to cost $2.3 million per year. They want the state next year to consider providing the $3.5 million share for the three year pilot.
This group figures that the cost of better programs would be more than offset by reducing the $1 billion a year spent on correction programs. It estimates $190 million as the potential savings a year.
The program would link vocational education for clients in six countries. This counties are in South Jersey. Camden County. There are industries in these areas that need trained workers.
All of the program offers will help to lower the number of women and men incarcerated in prisons and jails in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s Famous Prisoners: Tom Kean & Mike Tyson
Tom Kean was the former Gov. and board member of New Jersey Re-entry Corp. he endorsed the plan saying that the report provides valuable research and a practical path to enhance success. It recognizes formidable gains New Jersey has made to assist formerly incarcerated people.
Mike Tyson presented Gov. Chris Christie with a championship belt for his efforts on prisoner re-entry. The Governor earlier that week had just opened the nation’s first state prison dedicated to treating drug addicted inmates.
New Jersey Inmates: Time for Convicts
Last year the state cut the time convicts must wait to have their criminal records cleared to half the normal time. From 10 years to 5 years. However, those convicted of serious crimes like murder will not be eligible.
Drug addicts have to complete the court ordered rehab for them to receive this benefit. Hopefully, this will lead to them remaining free and no longer being incarcerated in prisons and jails in New Jersey.
New Jersey Inmates: Children of Incarcerated Parents
The damaging effects of imprisoning parents showed that New Jersey has the lowest rate in the nation of separating children from parents by jail or prison:
- They only have 3% of the state’s children that are separated from their parents
- This is less than half the national rate which is at 7%
New Jersey Inmates: Expansion
Volunteers of America Delaware Valley also runs safe returns in Camden and Trenton. They would like to expand to other countries.
It is the hope of the state that this happens especially in South Jersey to maintain the state’s momentum and maybe absorb some of the demand currently being served in the Atlantic city.