NJISJ plays a leadership role in the passage of three landmark prisoner reentry bills. This legislation was passed despite the budget crisis and challenging political environment. The New York Times called the legislation a “model for the nation.”
1. Strengthening Women and Families Act (A4197/S1347)
- Lifts the ban on food stamps and TANF benefits for individuals with felony drug convictions who have dependent children, which will leverage federal funding, saving state dollars, to support families as well as provide federal dollars to support treatment to keep addicts off drugs, away from crime, and from returning to prison.
- Establishes a commission to strengthen bonds between incarcerated parents and their children.
- Encourages incarcerated individuals to be placed in facilities as close as possible to family.
2. Education and Rehabilitation Act (A4202/S11)
- Requires the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) to ensure that incarcerated individuals attain the 12th-grade education proficiency level.
- Reviews vocational programs in order to meet demand job skills and standards.
3. Reduction of Recidivism Act (A4201/S502)
- Provides individuals leaving prison with written notification of fines, outstanding warrants, voting rights, and expungement options; a government-issued ID card; birth certificate; a list of prison programs participated in; medical records; Social Security card; medication; a one-day bus or rail pass; and a rap sheet.
- Eliminates the post-release Medicaid enrollment gap.
- Requires the NJDOC to report to the Governor and Legislature on the results of recidivism-reducing measures.