(TRENTON) – Seeking to reduce New Jersey’s incarcerated population and boost the resiliency of recidivism prevention programs, legislation to require a study of how a compassionate release program and elimination of mandatory minimums for parole eligibility under certain circumstances would fiscally impact the corrections system was approved Thursday by the full Assembly, 75-0.
The measure (A-4371) would require the New Jersey Commissioner of Corrections, in consultation with the Chairman of the State Parole Board and State Treasurer, to conduct a study to determine the fiscal impact of a compassionate release program and eliminating mandatory minimum terms of parole eligibility for certain incarcerated individuals. Any savings would be deposited into a special non-lapsing fund to be known as the “Corrections Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention Fund,” which would be used to support recidivism reduction programs and reentry services.
The bill’s sponsors, Assembly Democrats Annette Chaparro (D-Hudson), Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) and Pedro Mejia (D-Bergen, Hudson) released the following joint statement:
“New Jersey’s prison population increased by 278% between 1975 and 2015. Mass incarceration has shattered the lives of thousands of people across our state. Alarming racial disparities and mandatory minimums have exacerbated the problem. Between high rates of recidivism and mandatory minimum sentences keeping individuals incarcerated, the State has also shouldered a large economic burden. The cost to keep a person behind bars is estimated to be $50,000 per year.
“Reform is long overdue. The fiscal study required under this bill will give us a clear picture of the real cost savings of a compassionate release program and the elimination of certain mandatory minimums for parole, and guide us in focusing our efforts to help formerly incarcerated residents re-enter society and build their futures.”