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Majority Leader’s Legislation Would Create Supervised Reentry Program For Women Jailed For Crimes Against Abusers

TRENTON – Women imprisoned for crimes against their abusers would be helped in making the transition back into the community through a program proposed by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg in legislation approved yesterday by a Senate committee. The Supervised Community Reentry Program would be created in the New Jersey Department of Corrections according to a bill, S-995, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“There are many women serving prison sentences who were victims before they committed crimes against their abusers,” said Senator Weinberg. “The criminal justice system has often failed to account for the violence and abuse they suffered before they acted in defense or retaliation. In many cases they have paid the price with long jail terms that took them away from their families and communities. Making the transition back to society can be difficult, but it is more likely to succeed if they are guided with supervision and support.”

To be eligible for the reentry program before serving their full term, an inmate would have to get the approval by the Department of Corrections of an application that includes their prison record, a risk assessment and a psychological evaluation. The applicant would then have to demonstrate to the State Parole Board that their crime was committed against their abuser and no one else.

“Most female inmates have been the victims of physical or sexual abuse and for many of them their only crimes have been against those who harmed them,” said Senator Weinberg. “After years of incarceration, they need the reentry help. As victims themselves, they deserve it.”

Senator Weinberg previously visited the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility to talk directly with female inmates along with filmmaker Yoav Potash, whose award-winning documentary, “Crime After Crime,” has focused attention on imprisoned women who were victims of domestic violence.

The bill next goes to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.