Cunningham: Critical Corrections Programs Go Beyond Locking Up Inmates

Senator Sandra Cunningham listens to testimony during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing.

TRENTON – Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson and a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement regarding today’s panel hearing on the affect of the FY 2009 Budget on the State Department of Corrections:

“While talking with senior staff from the Department of Corrections today, it struck me that the Department’s most important programs don’t focus on the incarceration of inmates, but rather on making sure New Jersey citizens don’t commit crimes in the first place.

“Programs like STARS (Successful Transition and Reentry Series) realize that we have to prepare those individuals currently in our prisons to succeed when they are released back into the real world. Our goal must be to get every released inmate into safe, clean housing as soon as possible and find them a steady job so that they have the best chance to live a life free of repeat offenses.

“Additionally, I was pleased to hear that the Department continues to send its corrections officers into our middle and high schools to talk with students about the realities of prison and to encourage them to avoid the criminal life and pursue activities that will help them become productive, law-abiding adults.

“It’s programs like these that will help to reduce our prison population and make our streets safer and New Jersey needs to pursue similar programs at every opportunity. I am committed to sponsoring and passing legislation that strengthens similar programs.”