65 percent of New Jersey inmates are back behind bars within five years of their release. Yesterday, however, only hours before New Jersey's new Governor, Chris Christie's inaguration, Corzine committed New Jersey to changing these dire statistics by signing three bills aimed at reducing recidivism. Among other reforms, the bills, (A4197, A4201, A4202):
-Lift the ban on food stamps and TANF benefits for individuals with felony drug convictions who have dependent children,
-require the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) to ensure that incarcerated individuals attain the 12th-grade education proficiency level, eliminates the post-release Medicaid enrollment gap,
-provide individuals leaving prison with written notification of fines, outstanding warrants, voting rights, and expungement options; a government-issued ID card; birth certificate; a list of prison programs participated in; medical records; Social Security card; medication; a one-day bus or rail pass; and a rap sheet.
The legislation, which the New York Times tauted as “a model for the rest of the nation,” is aimed at saving the state valuable resources by reducing returns to prison and improving the public's safety.
Jan 19, 2010