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Turner On Department Of Corrections – More Focus Needs To Be On Rehabilitation

TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer and a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement regarding today’s panel hearing on the portion of the FY09 State Budget dealing with the Department of Corrections:

“New Jersey now spends over $1 billion each year incarcerating convicted criminals. In the end, the taxpayers receive no tangible benefit from this spending – our streets still aren’t any safer after we lock away all of these people.

“We spend far too little on rehabilitation and prevention programs when compared to the money we spend on incarceration. In the long-run, rehabilitation programs that focus on education and job training cost the taxpayers far less – we’ve already seen it with the overwhelming success of the drug courts. It’s time that the state puts a broader emphasis on re-entry programs that help inmates to get an education and find a good job so that people can legally provide for their families.

“When we start focusing on the inmates and the behaviors that have led them to commit crimes rather than the crimes themselves, we can help these people to turn their lives around and get on the right track to being productive members of society. Our goal must be to cut costs in the Department of Corrections not by cutting corners, but by ultimately reducing the number of inmates in New Jersey.”