By Colleen O’Dea
New Jersey’s rate of prison recidivism has dropped by 19 percent over six years, with fewer than three in 10 of those released winding up reincarcerated within three years, a new report has found.
In this, the National Reentry Resource Center and the Council of State Governments Justice Center study looked at New Jersey and 10 other states with significant declines in their three-year return-to-prison rates. New Jersey’s rate dropped from a high of 37 percent in 2007 to 29.8 percent in 2013, according to the most current data available.
“It’s exciting to see,” said Roseanne Scotti, state director of the New Jersey Drug Policy Alliance.
She cited changes in the state parole system as one reason for the drop in recidivism. The state has increased its offerings of residential and community-based programs for parolees to help them stay on track and make the transition back to life outside prison. There are also programs to help those suffering with substance abuse and mental illness, as well as general rehabilitation.
“If you just slam a person back in prison after they got a job and a place to live, you’re losing all the good progress they have made,” Scotti said. “Instead of saying they are going to punish someone, they are looking at what the issues are and giving more support.”