Dec 25, 2009

Reform Across the Hudson

There's a great op-ed in today's New York Times in support of a set of proposed reforms in New Jersey that would help reentrants more smoothly transition to their neighborhoods while reducing both recidivism and prison costs.

From the article, here's what the reforms would accomplish:

"An ex-offender could not be disqualified for employment unless the offense was directly related to the job. Job seekers would no longer be required to disclose convictions on applications for state, county or municipal jobs. The offenses could still be uncovered in background checks, but they would no longer automatically rule out an applicant from the start.

The bill would lift the state ban on food stamps and welfare benefits for people with felony drug convictions and would expand education and training opportunities for inmates. And it would end an odious practice under which the prison system earns a profit by overcharging poor families for the collect calls they receive from relatives inside a system. The added cost sometimes forces families to choose between putting food on the table or letting a child speak to an incarcerated parent."