Pilot would lay foundation for potential future statewide pre-entry program
Trenton – In an effort to improve the fair and just execution of the criminal justice system, the Senate Judiciary Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Brian Stack, which would establish the “Pre-trial Partnership for Community Support and Services Pilot Program” in Monmouth and Union counties, with the potential to be extended statewide.
The pre-entry pilot program would allow eligible defendants to receive health and social assessments and responsive treatment services, including addiction and mental health services, prior to trial. Successful participation in the program may be taken into consideration to reduce a sentence or dismiss a prosecution.
“The primary goal of the criminal justice system is not to punish, but to rehabilitate. In order to achieve this goal, we must provide people with access to support services throughout the duration of their time within the system, which begins at the time of arrest,” said Senator Stack (D- Hudson), Chair of the Committee. “This pre-entry program would offer defendants services and treatments, which will ultimately improve their court appearance rates, reduce recidivism, and enhance public safety.”
Under the bill, S-3588, eligible defendants would receive support services provided by and coordinated through an approved pre-entry community support provider. To be approved, providers must have provided comprehensive reentry services within the state for at least two years prior to the implementation of the program.
The legislation would direct providers to assist eligible defendants in developing and implementing pre-entry case plans. Each plan would consist of individualized recommendations for necessary support services ahead of the inmate’s trial. Under the bill, an approved support provider would provide pre-trial services free-of-charge, with no appropriation from the State.
The measure would also establish the “Pre-trial Partnership for Community Support and Services Commission,” which would be responsible for identifying qualified pre-entry support organizations and making recommendations regarding the continuation of the pre-entry pilot program past its initial one-year duration.
The bill was released from Committee by a vote of 10-0.