Measure Part of Legislative Jobs Package Designed to Boost Economy
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham to help former prisoners find jobs, in turn helping to boost the economy and reduce the recidivism rate in New Jersey, was today approved by both houses of the Legislature.
The bill (S-2556) would allow county or municipal governments to establish a program setting aside a certain percentage of their contracts to be awarded to companies that employ former prisoners.
“In order for former prisoners to successfully reintegrate into the community, they have to be given a chance to be productive members of society,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “This bill recognizes the need to create reasonable opportunities for those who have rehabilitated themselves to find work, to keep them from returning to the prison system. It also recognizes that everyone – regardless of past mistakes – should be part of the process of building a stronger economy in our state.”
The qualified prisoner re-entry set aside program would be authorized by local ordinance or resolution. It would require the governing body to establish a goal for its contracting agencies of setting aside a certain percentage of the dollar value of its total contracts for companies that employ former prisoners.
The measure is part of the recently unveiled “Back to Work NJ” legislative initiative to create jobs and promote the state as a better place for business. The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 24-13; it passed the Assembly by a 41-33 vote. It now heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.