Turner: Corrections Needs To Keep Moving Forward With Programs That Educate Inmates, Reduce Repeat Offenders

TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner, Chair of the Senate Education Committee and member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, today welcomed reports that the Department of Corrections (DOC) is expanding programs which help ease the transition of inmates back into society, but urged them to go further in supporting programs that would address the needs of inmates and help to reduce recidivism rates.

“Simply locking up these individuals is a losing proposition in the long run,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “We can use the time they serve in prison as an opportunity to address some of the underlying problems facing these people and leading them to a life of crime, such as drug abuse, mental illness and lack of a high school diploma.”

TURNER: CORRECTIONS NEEDS TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD WITH PROGRAMS THAT EDUCATE INMATES, REDUCE REPEAT OFFENDERS

TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner, Chair of the Senate Education Committee and member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, today welcomed reports that the Department of Corrections (DOC) is expanding programs which help ease the transition of inmates back into society, but urged them to go further in supporting programs that would address the needs of inmates and help to reduce recidivism rates.

“Simply locking up these individuals is a losing proposition in the long run,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “We can use the time they serve in prison as an opportunity to address some of the underlying problems facing these people and leading them to a life of crime, such as drug abuse, mental illness and lack of a high school diploma.”

Senator Turner pointed to a $1 million increase in DOC funding to develop a new initiative to assist and guide inmates in the FY08 Budget as the direction the State needs to go when it comes to our incarcerated inmates, but said that it doesn’t provide nearly enough.

“Here we’re being penny-wise and pound foolish. These programs are not about rewarding criminal behavior; they are about ending further criminal activity. These types of programs will save us money in the long run by reducing the number of repeat offenders,” explained Senator Turner.

Senator Turner urged DOC Commissioner George Hayman to explore new ways of providing inmates with access to programs that provide GED diplomas, college credits, vocational training and life skills that will help released individuals find gainful employment and housing after their sentence.

“Education is the key to reducing recidivism, yet far too few of our inmates are receiving the type of training and skills needed to become productive members of society when their sentences are up,” added Senator Turner. “We need to focus on treatment and training and not leave our prisons as places where inmates just count the days until they are released.”