TRENTON, NJ – A bill championed by Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly aimed at ending the school-to-prison pipeline, assisting individuals in recovery and rehabilitation, and reducing the number of repeat offenders and provide savings cleared its second legislative hurdle on Thursday.

The bill (A-1986), the “Earn Your Way Out Act,” was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further review.

“The majority of the more than 10,000 inmates who are released from prison each year in New Jersey will be rearrested, and two in five will return to prison. In addition to the direct impact this has on their own lives, it also affects their families, their communities and the entire state,” said Sumter. “It’s critical that we stop this woeful pattern by making sure that these men and women have the education, job skills and other resources they need in order to be productive members of society after leaving prison.”

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The legislation would enact various corrections and parole reforms, including requiring the Department of Corrections (DOC) to develop a reentry plan for each inmate, establishing administrative parole release for certain inmates, providing for parole compliance credits, creating an inmate disciplinary database and mandating an impact study of the legislation’s reforms by an institution of higher education’s criminal justice program.

“This is exactly where our emphasis should be when it comes to reforming the system, reducing crime and shutting the revolving door on prisons,” said Wimberly. “Comprehensive and effective rehabilitation programs will restore hope, dignity, and provide former inmates the second chance they deserve to do better once released. There’s a lot more to be done; however, this is a critical step to stabilizing families, reforming a broken system that has burdened our state and society with unquantifiable costs.”

Additionally, the bill provides that inmates may be awarded commutation credits following arrest for time served in a county jail. Currently, commutation credits are not available to inmates who serve time in a county jail prior to serving time in a State correctional system and creates a centralized database of information contained in each disciplinary report prepared by a corrections officer in response to an inmate committing a prohibited act.

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