NJ Senate Passes Bill to Overhaul Parole Process

February 1, 2017 · by rosenblumlawfirm · in

Source: Wikipedia

Lawmakers in New Jersey are moving forward with a proposed bill that would allow individuals convicted of minor crimes to be given earlier parole dates if they meet certain requirements. The bill has passed the Senate and is now awaiting a vote in an Assembly committee.

Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Hudson, who sponsored the bill, said the goal is to change the “entire culture of corrections in our society so that a prisoner comes out of prison as a better person than when they went in.”

The proposed bill lists four conditions that must be met in order for a prisoner to be released on parole as soon as they become eligible:

  • No violent crime conviction
  • No serious disciplinary infractions in the previous five years
  • Completion of a rehabilitation program
  • Notification of release to crime victims

The bill would require corrections officials to work with inmates to develop a reentry plan to help them get their life back together once they are released. To this end, a new Division of Reentry and Rehabilitative Services would be created within the Department of Corrections. The unit would inform inmates about rehabilitation programs and services and help each inmate create an individualized reentry plan. It would also establish a system of credits that parolees could earn for good behavior that would allow them to reduce the length of their post-incarceration supervision.

According to Lesniak, the changes would enhance public safety as well as save money by allowing the state to close some prisons. “This is what corrections ought to be about,” he said.

New Jersey has one of the lowest early release rates in the nation. A recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts [PDF] ranked states based on the number of prisoners who maxed-out their sentence. The Garden State ranked ninth highest, with 41% of prisoners maxing out their sentence; the national average is 21%. Another Pew report offers evidence that inmates released on parole are less likely to commit more crimes than those who serve out their sentences.

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