New Jersey expands rehabilitation programs for non-violent offenders

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November 29, 2011

CAMDEN, New Jersey:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced a new prisoner rehabilitation program. The initiative will expand existing efforts to help non-violent offenders re-integrate into society. He signed the executive order on November 28, 2011.[1]

In the hopes of discouraging repeat offences, Christie's plan will create a Task Force on Recidivism Reduction and an Office Re-entry Coordinator. Ongoing assessments and a live database are key components of the new initiative.[2]

New Jersey's Drug Court Program has operated since 1996.[1] It offers non-violent offenders drug treatment options instead of jail sentences. Its graduates have a reconviction rate of 8%, compared with 43% for drug offenders released from prison.[2]

Under the new pilot plan, judges could give these alternative sentences -- under the current system, criminals have to ask for the drug court option.[1]

According to Christie, Drug Court programs cost $11,000 per offender annually, while prison costs $39,000 per year.[1]

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D) says the initiative should go further and cover more offenders.[2]

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