Measure Comes as Some Offenders Get Early Release for COVID-19
To reduce obstacles faced by offenders and ensure they experience no delay in getting access to benefits and services vital for reentry, legislation was signed into law by the Governor on Wednesday.
The bill (A-3912), now law, follows Executive Order No. 124 granting temporary reprieve to certain at-risk inmates. It requires certain documents and assistance to be provided 10 days prior to release from a State correctional facility. Among these are assistance in obtaining a Social Security card, a one-day New Jersey bus or rail pass, and a two-week supply of prescription medication.
The Commissioner of Corrections will also need to issue, free of charge, a non-driver identification card no less than 10 days prior to release. If a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission issued ID cannot be obtained due to a public health or state of emergency, all State, county, and municipal agencies and New Jersey nonprofits must accept the Department of Corrections issued ID for releasee to gain access to services.
Sponsors of the bill issued the following statements:
Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex): “After release, many offenders face a lack of access to resources, and many won’t have support from their families. By facilitating enrollment in Medicaid, as well as enrollment assistance in programs that provide food and housing security, this law helps the reentry process in the time of the coronavirus to be less challenging.”
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union): “A non-driver ID card is one of the most important tools for securing reentry benefits and assistance from social services. Prioritizing access to this proof of identity following release from prison or jail is essential for self-sufficiency and to help individuals rebuild their lives, especially while we navigate this public health emergency.”
Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-Mercer, Hunterdon): “Removing obstacles to emergency housing for the duration of this state of emergency is critical to preserving our public health objectives. Individuals reentering society need a place to self-isolate or quarantine. Enabling organizations with the space, but who currently lack the licensing, to provide temporary shelter is key to making sure that need is met.”
Under the law, a 30-day prescription order and two additional refills will also be given upon release in addition to the two-week supply. The law takes effect immediately.