Urgency of Measure Comes as Some Offenders Released 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, the full Assembly passed legislation 51-25-2 on Monday giving it final legislative approval.
The bill (A-3912) follows Chief Justice Stuart Rabner’s order for the release of low-level offenders, those incarcerated for parole violations and those sentenced in municipal courts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 throughout New Jersey’s correctional facilities.
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 legislation 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 bill, certain documents required to be given 10 days prior to release under current law would need to be provided 30 days prior with the exception of non-driver’s identification, which would be provided free of charge 45 days in advance. It would also increase the requirement for two-week supply of prescriptions to three-months.
The Senate passed the bill 24-4 on Monday. It now goes to the Governor’s desk.