Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner, which would require the Division of Parole to provide offenders who have served their maximum sentences with post-release services, passed the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
Currently, state prisoners who serve their full terms are not eligible for the support programs that have proven to be successful transitioning parolees back into jobs and community life without returning to crime. A recent Pew study in New Jersey found that parolees have better public safety outcomes than inmates who serve their full sentences.
“Former offenders who serve their maximum sentences should have access to the same services that parolees receive when they are released back into the community,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “It has been shown time and time again that transitional services are essential in working to prevent past offenders from recidivating. Supportive services are an important tool in the re-entry process and those services should be available to all offenders to help improve their chances of success when they leave prison.”
The bill, S-2406, would require the State Division of Parole to offer the same post-release services to defendants who have served the maximum term of incarceration that are provided to defendants who are released on parole.
Under the bill, these services would be provided upon the request of the defendant. The bill would direct the Commissioner of Corrections to advise these defendants of the availability of these services. The post-incarceration services include halfway houses, drug treatment programs, residential programs, community resource centers and emergency housing.
“A large percentage of inmates in New Jersey serve their maximum sentence before release,” said Senator Turner. “According to the Department of Corrections, the per-inmate cost of incarceration is more than $50,000 a year; whereas, supportive services are a fraction of the cost. If we can improve success rates for former offenders with supportive services, we will lessen the burden on our judicial and corrections systems, save taxpayer money, make our communities safer, and help change lives for the better.”
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 4-0.