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Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, speaks about Women's Equality Day in the New Jersey Senate Chambers during a voting session.

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 today by the Senate. The Supervised Community Reentry Program would be created in the New Jersey Department of Corrections according to a bill, S-995, approved today by the full Senate.

“Women convicted of committing crimes against their abusers are themselves victims and many are unlikely to carry out a crime against someone else,” said Senator Weinberg. “The criminal justice system has often failed to account for the violence and abuse survivors have suffered, often over many years. Instead, many are sentenced to 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.”

The program would be created specifically for individuals convicted of committing crimes against individuals that abused them. Eligible inmates would undergo a period of reentry training, be required to agree to a reintegration plan and transition gradually to supervision in the community, such as to domestic violence shelters or to a period of house arrest with a GPS monitoring system. 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. “While we have worked to provide resources to victims of domestic violence, we need to do more to assist those who have been forced to protect themselves against their abusers. After years of incarceration, these survivors need the reentry help. This will provide support as they transition back into the community.”

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 was approved by a vote of 37-0. It next goes to the Assembly for consideration.